Shemish by Emma Burekhovich, 2015 Silver Key, Painting, 12th Grade, Yeshivah of Flatbush Joel Brave
it’s time to grow up (2015 Gold Key, Poetry)
By Serena Yang, 8th Grade, Hunter College High School
she misses the days
when she could squint at the shadows
and see goblins trying to steal her piggy bank,
when she could stare up into a cloudless blue sky
and declare that there are pegasi circling just overhead.
where’s her dragon
in all its fire-breathing glory?
where’s her prince
to sweep her up and kiss her dizzy?
where’s her fairy godmother
already years late?
where did the monsters go
and why do the fairies hide themselves?
it makes her uneasy
when she squints at the shadows
and sees nothing but the outline of her furniture,
when she stares up into a cloudless blue sky
and declares nothing more than the slim chance of rain.
and so she spits defiantly at change
and sneers righteously at reality.
she tightens her grip—
rather break her fingers than let them slip.
soon, she realizes just how
she is in this world
(even as her eyes continue to search feverishly
for familiar signs of home).
she realized much too late, she thinks,
and now she can’t seem to remember why
she fought so hard to hold on.
no one warned her
of the price she would pay
for all the time she had sealed her ears
to society’s rigid rules
and lived inside her thoughts.
no one told her
to let go,
and so she dreamed.
but now she’s lost in a labyrinth that doesn’t exist
trampled by beasts she no longer sees
searching for herself in carnival fun house mirrors
and scattered fragments of past selves.
she never knows what she’s looking for,
and perhaps that’s why her fingers grasp,
desperately, at absolutely nothing.
she doesn’t know who she is anymore,
hasn’t she already paid her price in full?
she wants to run—
she wants to fly away—
oh, but her wings are tied.
she wants to cry—
her eyelids are sewn shut.
where’s her voice?
she’s scared and lost and—
because suddenly, looking for magic
in shadows and cloudless blue skies
isn’t who she is (isn’t who she’s expected to be),