I crossed Lake Michigan to meet you
and weathered the storms of your father’s temper.
I traced your scars, especially the long thin one that crawled
down your cheek
like an unfinished sentence, stopping at your jaw.
I promise, I really did try to disregard it.
Eventually, when I grew more powerful,
I fixed it for you.
You were twenty-two and beautiful. Your cheek looked empty.
You started swallowing your incomplete sentences.
When your hair began to gray,
I told you I could fix that, too.
You refused.
I could have run my fingers along your widow’s-peak
and willed the amber color to return.
But you did not mind the change.
You said you felt like a butterfly or a river. You felt beautiful.
Which you were, but I missed you
the way you looked at twenty-two,
your steady gaze and broad shoulders.
When wrinkles started seeping into your skin,
I said nothing. I let my power go to waste.
I kissed the furrows in your brow,
like ripples extending from thrown-stone eyes.
I could have stopped the arthritis, the amnesia,
and the lung infection. I could have forced you to eat,
splashed color back into your cheeks,
but I could have never made you feel
the way you felt at twenty-two,
the moment I lifted the scar off your face
like a strand of silk.
You saw it dangling there
and you smiled.

As they lowered your casket into the ground,
I held it in my pocket, wrapped around my finger.
It was the only part of you remaining–
an unfinished sentence.


Grandma and grandpa dead
the great big bird of Heaven come
to pick them up
one by one
him first her next
like kittens
grabbed by the scruff of the neck
carried up
up up
owned once again by the almighty

Grandma told me
she never drank coffee
until she traveled to Ireland
where the hills were giant emeralds
and the cold crawled up under her jacket
touching her thin body
and when the innkeeper poured
she graciously accepted

I pray for her
Yit’gadal yit’kadash sh’mei raba
For the winds which touched
her thin frail body
and for the impression of her
left in the mattress

v’chayim aleinu v’al kol yis’ra’eil v’im’ru

His Hebrew name was Chaim
for life
for reading the paper
Sunday mornings
with hot coffee
understanding the inner workings
of the soul
Chaim for everlasting life
for Grandpa

B’rikh ru

The great big bird of Heaven come
in the midst of a hurricane

Come and lifts them up
up up
into the arms of their keeper

Diana Mellow, Age 15, Grade 11, Fiorello H Laguardia High School of Music, Silver Key

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