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Samantha Aikman, 2020 Original Poetry Winner

The Way the Flood Rises


You used to collect chasms in glass jars and verses under your bed. You used to smile at me. You were phosphorescence and I couldn't wash you off; I didn't want to. For all the times I refused to talk you never gave into writing on the walls with crayons or charcoal or your own tears. I used to stand in front of a mirror and hold myself, just to see what it looked like. I never saw you do the same but I dreamed about it- the way your hands curled around your shoulders, the way your forehead tucked helplessly into the nook of your elbows, the way your eyelashes became damp with the possibility of ocean dust. You are the inexplicable boy I leave poetry for. You are the person I am asked about by familiar strangers in the refrigerated section of the grocery store: "Who is he and why did you let him go?" I wonder what would've happened if you'd told me, that day on the riverbank, that you write let-go letters too. I wonder if I would've looked for them or written you back or burned all the paper in my house. I wonder if I could've saved you a little more. I wonder if I want to.


Samantha Aikman

Gold Key, 2020 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

Samantha Aikman is a sophomore at Big Picture South Burlington. She is passionate about writing, reading, and reenacting the 18th century—including sewing her own historically accurate clothes. A favorite poet of hers is Benjamine Alire Saenz. Samantha's poems have been published in the Burlington Free Press, online in Vermont Digger, and in the Young Writers Project's The Voice. Samantha has a blog on the Young Writers Project website, which is how she shares most of her writing. Sometimes she makes tiny notes and leaves her poems around in public places for people to find.