To Whom it May Concern

I. Dear Woody Guthrie

I ran into you tonight

While wandering through a grocery store

In Upper Manhattan, on 125th Street.

My cart was piled high with the oranges you’d picked

In dusty fields of knee-high California weeds

A can of strawberries you’d mashed into jam

Circa 1937, circa poetry and banjoes.

And you were whistling a tune, jostled by the crowds

And you were pushed and shoved and bruised and

Black and blue

And you were breathing in the air infused with

“How much for this loaf of sourdough bread? Coming through!”

And you sat to speak with a homeless man

Sprawled by the revolving front entrance door

And you intertwined your fingers with his

Wrapped around the fibers of a cup calling,



And you reached into your grocery bag

To hand him an orange

That had been scaled and weighed and counted

That had been one dollar

Two quarters, one dimes, and three nickels

An orange you that had picked in a field of tumbleweeds and lilacs.

And an orange that you laid on the cement ground

Because your whistles and your prose explained

That it belonged to me, to you

To the gravel of 125th Street.

II. Dear Motherhood

What time was it, when you tucked Mother’s Day in to bed last night?

Did you remember her patchwork quilt

Her Mickey Mouse night-light?

What did you say to her, Mother’s Day, when the clock struck twelve?

Did you build an apology

From the box of popsicle sticks, shut and shelved?

Did you sketch your sighs with crayons and with Crayola chalk?

Did you wish for words unspoken

Playing with the hands of a clock?

Did you hear me, ten at night, pull out twelve years of gifts?

Handmade cards, pencil jars

Match ages to castles of popsicle sticks?

Did you spot a yellow pincushion, messily sewn and riddled with holes?

Did you notice the thousand little poems and rhymes

And ribbons filling pottery bowls?

Were you reminded of dishes, washed and dried?

Were you reminded of clothing, freshly laundered, tossed aside?

Did you flip through the dictionary to define mom?

And in the whiteness between lines of text

Did you feel the pulse of the answer

On your downward pressed palm?

Emma Goldberg
Age 17, Grade 12
Writopia Lab
Silver Key

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