Nancy Tupper Ling
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 Nancy Tupper Ling is the Grand Prize winner of the Writer's Digest Annual Competition in 2005. She won 2nd Place for Poetry with the Pacific Northwest Writer's Association. While she is a librarian by trade, her true passion is poetry. She has served as Poetry Judge and Library Liaison for the Massachusetts State Poetry Society. This year her first collection of poetry entitled Laughter in My Tent: A Womanís Search for Family was published. . Her poems have appeared in a variety of journals, Studio, The Poets Pen, THEMA, The Penwood Review, Windhover, Radix, Mid-America Poetry Review, Flyway and Rambunctious Review to name a few. Currently, Ms. Tupper Ling lives in Walpole, Massachusetts with her husband, Vincent, and two daughters.

White Birch


A bride among groomsmen,

you stand light and white

against a late November sky.

Oaks and evergreens attend

to you, shield your beauty.

The harsh breeze peels

your papery ribbons like sheets

of shoji, bouquets of fallen bark.

Your skin is yuzen, the way

your inner bark, once exposed,

emerges inky and black.

I want to ask: do you know

the family at your woodís end?

So many ruthless winters,

still their daughter has grown

tall and striking like you.

Her secrets fall silent,

icicles in snow. I wonder,

will she hear you whisper

wait until spring; wait to find

the flowers inside your catkins,

to watch the scaly spikes drop off.


Nancy Tupper Ling

Winner of the Writer's Digest 2005 Grand Prize





My boots thaw again

beneath the pew.

Winter light licks

the stained glass,

flicks the doveís

wings to flight.




I played at Mollieís once,

her paint-chipped place

above the package store,

her fatherís chair, empty

reeking of sweat

and smoke and beer,

as if he were sitting there.




The minister reminds us: youíll be white as snow . . . .someday.




Mollie and I would

stretch our bodies

across pew backs,

along narrow beams,

arms extended like Christ.

Two young girls trying to balance,

we'd raise legs upward,

stroll the tree-topped sky,

believing we would soar.




I wait for a stirring now. . .




This summer I saw a snake spinning,

a tire track stamped across its tail,

its thick black body stapled to the road.

How it whirled mightily; how it fought

to loosen itself from its grave.



Iím home, counting tea leaves;

dark spindly masses linger in your cup.

Iím not searching for divinations.

Just wondering: how the brittle, the weak,

awaken and resurrect under hot water,

steep bereavement into fragrance?

How many branches beg

this body to sing?

And, what remains here for me

the way the tea singed your tongue,

the way it clings to my lips when you leave?