Isle, India’s House

Isle

She arrived with two suitcases

one filled with bitter chocolate memories,

the other with yarn in colors

that painted a wild place

with tundra and lavender.

She had never taken a scissor to her hair

I still remember the pain in her eyes:

dull silver

and inches on the floor.

Her eyes were wide and flat like moonstone,

with shadows cast over them

that probed into your deep dark spots

and boneless soft places.

She loved barbecues

and wearing shorts

and lakes

that were calm

from the surface but full of

broken fragments underneath.

She fit enough bracelets on each arm

to cover bruises:

her own dark spots

that she didn’t want our

kaleidoscope eyes to see

because she knew our understanding would splinter

into questions and past.

She knew that all of us possessed these dark things

but we could ignore them:

held tight in the internal niches where they could fester

without being seen

laced by white bones

beneath a layer of skin,

crisp as unbroken ice

smooth as wrapping paper.

I like to remember her

in a perpetual summer

delighted that her skin

could tan

if it was warm enough.

Gliding under silt layers

of water

each peeling away like a scab until she rested on the moss-bottom

so close that she could hear the lake moving and shifting

her body freckled with the shadows of intertwining reeds.

India’s House

I remember you

fragmented

washes of watercolor blues and greens

moths in the night

wine-dark velvety wings testing the air in quick flurries of movement

the slippery smell of chamomile at the edges like a sigh

dreams sewn of netting and silk and worn oyster cotton,

found in a trunk with brass handles.

And I remember

the woman with hair like frayed fabric

and the dragonfly drawn with emerald ink

in a flit above her ear.

And I remember

we searched and found shattered things

and turned them into talismans.

When I come back

sepia leaves carpet the ground

I missed apple-picking season

but I’m happy to see you anyway

The color blue

stretches into every corner.


Eva Johnson, Age 14, Grade 9, Hunter College High School, Gold Key

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