You seem like animals, snouts together,
and tails feeling about tentatively like tentacles.
You opened the door, the kitchen became a vacuum.
You ventured into the cold in my borrowed jacket,
and were back by nine, the cold ringing on your cheeks.
I didn’t know if your eyes reflected in the mirror,
they looked feral.
I messed up the order of events.
My memory started to put you into boxes,
the cardboard must have made the connection weaker.
The shades were faulty and I saw the day
slither in. I wondered if you saw it too.
I had a dream that we ate, and our teeth cracked,
simultaneously split in two, and disappeared into the folds.
We ate late, and you hid your eyes with your front teeth.
I couldn’t hear your voice over the buzz of my swollen belly.
Nothing changed except the vacuum became permanent,
I saw you and the air was swallowed up
whole, the baloon was deflated.
You kept your eyes on my teeth as we cracked in two.
The second change
We deserve better.
These changes could harden our muscles into concrete,
the mind into a labyrinth,
and the sun into slush on pavement.
We will speak in shapeless sounds,
and my cheeks will become hollow.
There won’t be a big bang,
I will squeeze my body into a small ball,
I will sit behind the sweaters in my closet
I will hope to feel something in my toes or hipbones.
After the change, sidewalk cracks will be lucky,
air will be nutritious.
I will change my soul
into a heart, my heart into a soul.
You were skeptical.
You pointed on the map to Timbuktu,
you said, ”maybe if you go there,
It will feel like that.”
But the hills were one-dimensional,
the rivers looked stagnant,
and the stick figures seemed hostile.
Maybe if I morphed my mind—
put my emotions in small tin cans,
I could achieve this second change.
My cheeks still seemed thick like pond water,
and my soul was still my soul,
my heart still my heart.
You told me that I wanted this change
too much. You said that I had changed,
my body seemed shrunken with determination.
As I walked I felt the tin cans rattle
against my raw ribs,
and somehow my blood seemed to flow backwards.
You refused to believe this,
“arteries and veins have their specific functions,
nothing can change that.”
My house and everyone in it started to melt—
seep into the ground headfirst—
You were gone and my tin cans felt heavier.
But this was not the second change,
so I waited.
I waited for seven days on the sidewalk cracks,
hoping that luck would find me.
The tins cans burst—
leaving me with steaming fragments
accumulating in my arteries,
I let them go.
Katrina Northrop, Age 15, Grade 10, Saint Ann’s School, Silver Key