First Place | Poetry Writing Contest

51st New Millennium Award for Poetry

Susan Salgy of Provo, Utah for “Lesson for a Tree in a Snowstorm”

Salgy will receive $1,000 and publication both online and in print.


Lesson for a Tree in a Snowstorm

Susan Salgy

Whatever you do, don’t break. The snow always stops.
Remember that. And every time, in the nick of time, like
in a fairy tale: the rapturous dénouement. Something happens
by, to break the icy spell that grips your suffering limbs.
It is easy to forget, but you can bet your life: unlikely
angels will appear, just as surprised as you.
A white-tailed deer, foraging, will catch his rack on the
tangled arms of your canopy, inches from the ground. Or
two boys, shouting past you with a galloping Labrador,
will test their sticks against your broad white back. Or
a surrendering limb from a nearby tree will bounce against
your shaggy breast, stirring you to a great flapping
shudder, like a dog emerging from a lake.
One way or another, the glorious euphoria. Frozen hours
of captive fresh-fall unleashed in one ebullient eruption
over the head of your accidental hero. The clatter of
interlocked wood unclenching, rebounding wiser, already
growing thicker at the breaking points.
You are comprised of all that earlier storms have taught
your greenheart sinews. Break now, and what new lesson
of surrender will rise to counsel your faithful, fearless heart?
What is the use of such dispirited education, that will end
in a cord of firewood shriveling next to someone’s garage?
Call upon your lissome limbs to bend, and bend, and
bend–another tortured fraction past the breaking point.
While the snow mounts, fat and heavy, across your trembling
back, toe into the thick black earth and wait. Whatever you do,
don’t break. Even now, deliverance may be
waxing her skinny skis and whistling for the dogs.


Susan Chock Salgy studied creative writing at Brigham Young University, and writes poetry and creative non-fiction. Recent publications include essays “The COVID Interregnum,” published in Pages Penned in Pandemic: A Collective, and “Indelible,” published in Glassworks. Her poetry appears in The Sunlight Press, Sunstone, The Magnolia Review, and at

Lesson for Tree in a Snowstorm © 2021 Susan Salgy
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16 thoughts on “”

  1. Nice. It will stay with me. A good lesson for endurance, needed at this time. Thank you for your poetry. Congratulations.

    Kathleen, Nashville, TN

  2. Just incredible!! Amazing gift of words and beautiful message in your poem. Thanks for the timely reminder to wait and not break! Thanks!!

  3. Bravo, Susan! What a big-hearted poem. “You are comprised of all that earlier storms have taught …” Every image clear as crisp air, every word full of truth and generosity. Thank you for writing this poem. Will be thinking of your heavily weighted tree all winter.

  4. Brilliant! Words are so descriptive. Don’t you love the comment saying you look young? Missed you at the HS Reunion. Robin

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