afternoon bike ride—
winter light filters
through barren trees
at the 45 mile marker
of the White River

the river bends
beyond Kazu Bridge
where spirits rise
out of gnarled bark
and tree roots

from the park
echoes of creaking swings—
the only direction
my father ever pushed me
was down

in these shortening days
how quickly we forget
the little things—
I swerve to save the first
wooly worm of the year

the long way home
against the wind—
in roots like open arms
ready to receive
I leave a note tied in red thread

be kind, tree spirits,
to those who travel
on this trying trail—
not all who wander are lost
but oh so many are


Penscape is an annual creative writing competition open to graduate students in the Ball State English department. Winners are chosen in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. The competition was judged by program alumni.

Native to Central Illinois, Penscape poetry winner Aubrie Cox is a second-year creative writing Master’s student at Ball State University. Her focus is in short verse and she is an editor for A Hundred Gourds, a journal dedicated to haiku, tanka, and related forms. She was recently selected for inclusion in the anthology A New Resonance 8: Emerging Voices in English-Language Haiku, which features poets from around the world who are recognized for their work in haiku but have not yet published a full-length collection.