2019 Antioch Fellowship, 2nd Place Winner: An Explanation by Madeleine Cravens

We’re all very excited to share with you the 1st runner up of our Antioch Fellowship, “An Explanation” by Madeleine Cravens: an investigation of womanhood, of getting older, of reading the slow, slow message of our own past. Stay tuned for our winner Momtaza Mehri ‘s poetry on the 27th.


An Explanation

I do not like milk. I wish I knew more children.
I am not afraid of heights. I do not fear deep water.
I used to be the fastest swimmer, just the fastest,
out of all the girls. And once when I was twenty-one
I hitchhiked from a rest stop in Eastern Indiana
to Chicago in a logging truck. I slept
atop the trucker’s backseat fold-out bed
with my cellphone and a small black knife.
At dawn he left me by the outer suburbs,
from which I called a cab directly to the doorstep
of someone else I loved, and then at twenty-three
in Lebanon, I slept alone atop a mountain,
and woke to my tent surrounded at all sides
by a sea of grazing sheep, some with bells,
their soft mouths moving by the hundreds,
and across the road two rams collided,
and the shepherd texted, and I thought
if I have a daughter I hope she’s nothing like me
and from the valley came a smell of burning.




Madeleine Cravens

Madeleine Cravens will be the Max Ritvo Poetry Fellow at Columbia University in Fall 2020. She received her BA from Oberlin College. Her work can be found or is forthcoming in Best of the Net, the Adroit Journal, FOLIO, and IMAGE Journal.

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