My Only Chance


The September breeze creeps through the bushes
Whispering to all it passes
The sun peeks out over the horizon
Oranges yellows reds and purples mix
An array of breathtaking beauty covers the twilight sky
It is reflected in the stream by the side of our small pitiful cabin
Which stands ashamed at the edge of the field
My dad is out in the field
Just him and his thoughts
In his ragged shirt he looks even bigger than he is
At 6’1 he has to bend far to reach the wheat he is cutting
His dark hair falls into his face
He pushes it away with a sigh
The sigh that I know so well
The sigh that is used towards me

The stream
It flows and runs and gushes forever
It seems almost too free
As if it knows no boundaries
The water moves reflecting all it sees
Including me
I look down
My mud colored curls are messy as usual
Intertwining with one another
I look at myself with my hazel eyes
Dark, then lighter in the middle
I don’t want that
I want the love that I see in the eyes of others
The appreciation and pride from the ones who care about them
The love that binds them together
The feeling of family and warmth in their lives
I want that feeling
I never see it
Never feel it
Never will


I am the cabin
My sanding was done carelessly
My grain is imperfect and out of place
Clearly done by Oliver
His father would never sand like that
With so little care or feeling
But Oliver would
At a scrawny 4’11 he’s too small and weak
He can’t grow
Or doesn’t want to
He just hides
Stays away from what gives him pain
And it shows

His father stands far away
Like always
He doesn’t reach out to his son in any way
He just stands there
Expressionless and full of nothing
No feeling or emotion
No will except Oliver
Standing out here
With them
It’s like I’m part of it
I sit in the middle of nowhere though I’m in the middle of anywhere
Anywhere with feeling
As little as there is
I just sit and watch
Watch them grow apart
Less father and son
But more a father
And someone’s son

Pictures of Then

There are pictures
But only two… only two important memories
The first is my parents
The greatest love of all time
No one ever thought anyone
Ever- could be more
The love they shared still thrives
Secretly though
When no one is looking
My dad finds his love
But under all that love is the worst pain
It’s been years since I was born and she was gone,
My father says her only weakness was: she could never hold on tight enough
She would never see me become a man
She was too weak
My birth took a toll
I took a toll on her
And now she’s
Never coming back
It’s because of me
Every time I see this picture I am reminded of that
Those were better times
Maybe happier people
The grainy black and white shows no color but all the emotions
Sometimes I stare into her eyes
All knowing and protective
As if she’s watching over me
As if she’s telling me she loves me
And I wonder
Would she be proud?
Proud of the young boy I’ve become
Would the love have stayed?
Would she have kept our family together?
Would she love me?
Like my father said he did?
I’ll never know

The second is me on the day I was born
Me and my parents
My father says it was the most expensive thing he ever bought
But he was proud of it
It was only days before my mom went
Though weak she still managed one of her smiles
Full and bright
With a hint of too much knowledge-just maybe-
And of course love
Love for me
For my dad
Love for the family we were
My dad looks the happiest ever
The look of unbelievable perfection
He loves that moment and it shows
But only then did it show now
A fake smile here and there but nothing like that face

These pictures are my escape
Into the life they could have had
Maybe the life I could have had
With them
All of us
As one family
Not individuals
They are a beacon of hope
For what I someday want to feel
A ray of goodness, hope in the darkest corner of my heart

They give me the feeling of hope that I never had
I want that hope
I need that hope
I need my father to feel that way, again
Even just for a minute
I need him to sometime, whenever
Look at me the way he did before she died
With all that pride and hope and love
The way I think he never will


His smile hurts me
Even though I know it’s not real
He looks down from his fatherly stance
As a king looks down upon a peasant

He’s sitting by the fire
I can see him from my bed
He thinks I’m sleeping
Then walks in
I can tell
It feels unnatural
But he approaches my bed with caution
Picking up my covers and adjusting them
Making me warmer and safer
He does the unexpected
He leans down and whispers three simple words
With ages of deep meaning
Words that together make just a little of that pain
Go away
Good night
Then I can see the love in his eyes and his heart
But know he cannot see mine

He ignores my longing stares when we eat
My attempt at conversation
Telling him I love him, for the first time in a while
He is too hidden
Behind walls of pain and anger
Behind years of repression and loss
I need him out of that repression
Out of that anger
I need the man that could once
Make everyone in a room happy just by entering
I need him back
That is
If I ever had him
At all

My Only Chance

While the rest of the world lies in slumber
I lie awake
Sometimes writing
Sometimes thinking about
The little love that remains for me
From my only escape
My escape into a better world
To happiness
When the ink glistens on the page and
Those deep beautiful words
Pour out of my soul
Bearing my emotions onto the crinkly cream paper
I feel free
I feel complete
Like myself
Not who my father wants me to be

Not that feeling I get
When he looks at me
With all that confusion
And questioning
What happened to me?
Why am I so different?
Why do I want to be a poet?
Why do I need to be?
What went wrong?
It washes over me
An ocean wave of crushed dreams falling down

I need to get away from it all
From the look my father has when he finds my poems
When he reads the few poems about my mom
The amazement
The realizations
It all hurts too much
I have too little happiness left in me that I cannot bear it
There is almost no end to the pain he feels for me
About me

I don’t need more of that pain
I don’t want it
I want him to be proud
To love what I want to become
I need his acceptance
Not his hurt
I need the happiness he knew so well for so long
Before I came
I want that
I want a real family
I want opportunities for a new start
A good beginning
But most importantly,
I want his love
I want his love more than anything
But I won’t get it
I don’t think I will

Rose Cytryn
Age 13, Grade 8
NYC Lab MS for Collaborative Studies
Silver Key

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