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.
Gold Key, 2020 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards