January 2022 Contest: Winner Announcement

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We are excited to announce the winner of the January 2022 Chattanooga Writers’ Guild Monthly Contest is Sherry Poff with the submission “A Fresh Beginning.”

Sherry Poff writes in and around Ooltewah, Tennessee. She holds an M.A. in writing from The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and is a member of the Chattanooga Writers’ Guild. Her work has appeared recently in Speckled Trout Review, Raconteur Review, Heart of Flesh, and The Chattanooga Pulse.

A Fresh Beginning

I broke down and cried when I read that my baby would begin to walk at around a year. I was still amazed by her tiny, perfect ears, hands, and feet. To think of those feet carrying her away from me was more than my postpartum emotions could handle. 

Later, my mother held those little pink feet in her own warm hands and remarked, “Where will these little feet go?” Mom was possibly imagining great things for her granddaughter, but I again felt the stab of fear. Was it because my own youthful waywardness was still fresh on my mind? Because I understood with poignant ruefulness that a parent’s love and guidance can go only so far? Then we’re on our own.

But we’re not. We’re not on our own. We are created with a yearning for community, and from our first moments of life, we reach for another, we trust another. Children are born with no knowledge of what there is to fear. In most cases, each person they come in contact with in those first weeks and months is a person who wants to help them, someone who loves them and wishes them well. Their first stumbles and scraped elbows help them understand that the world can be a dangerous place. But the ones who come alongside and help them up are part of the learning process as well. Day by day, children learn to take one step and then another, and before we know it, they move with confidence. They become leaders and helpers themselves. 

Poet Susan Coolidge noted, “Every day is a fresh beginning.” Some like to think of each new year as a fresh beginning. We buy calendars with beautiful, hope-filled images or with funny, hope-inducing messages. We remember that we are not alone, and—perhaps—we resolve to be the one to pick up another. 

Everything feels so uncertain just now. But life has always been a tenuous venture. These days we have more resources than ever before, more ways to reach out. We just need to learn—or perhaps remember—how to do that. 

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