I Never Fell Asleep at Bedtime
the apartment outside my window
had a picket-fence balcony.
they would decorate from december to may,
until the flowers sometimes bloomed.
they had the old kind of lights:
round and warm and juicy,
and starting fires in the tree until
my father replaced ours.
but the garlands on the balcony
made twisting jelly-bean trails on
my ceiling all winter and spring.
my constellations: by them I plotted
the headlights crossing the far wall
and the bubbles and ribbons
of music twirling and whizzing away.
there were other fading things:
the soft chimes of dinner dishes,
the manic, airy laughter in the streets,
the shill brakes before soft crashes,
the balcony lights, which flickered
out after thirteen years.
My Father’s Eyes
I didn’t get my father’s eyes,
o mild ocean,
full of milky sand and elegant sharks,
and the silence of whales.
The vast creatures of black,
fertile mud are not so sleek:
rough wild fur and howling legs everywhere.
My dark hours obscure the shoreline;
topple into the velvety sea.
I remember the last time
I remember the last time I saw your eyes was in the enormous church
where I came inside because of the rain that washed
the stained-glass windows clean in little rivers and plastered
my hair against one cheek; climbing the stairs and walking
heel-to-toe to make no sound as I watched the murky pink
light on your hair, your breathing paused and started slower than before,
which was enough to tell me you had heard. You left.
I miss the fifth postulate,
knowing there was only one way to go,
not wondering if choosing another
would make whole different worlds drift into being.
Rose Mintzer-Sweeney, Age 16 Grade 11, Stuyvesant High School, Gold Key