Ilana Arougheti, Grade 11, Cherry Hill High School East 


The cardboard town,

petty, arachnid, forlorn,

had not yet collapsed on her shoulders.

She had not yet considered to turn from the wails

of the steel-wool embraces that held her;

She had not yet refused

to mete out the cost for each star beaming boldly in her eye,

surrendering each twinkle’s weight in tears.


She had not yet embraced the company of the ghosts at the kitchen table,

not yet gathered filmy scraps of rhythm to rock her safely through each anxious dawn.

She had not yet cast away

the need and greed that caught her in constant cacophony,

not yet unearthed the strange reverberations in their stead,

the explosive catechisms of I, the endgames still dormant beneath her lungs.


She had yet to realize that the vibrato of home on her lips needed not be a sentence of stagnancy.

She had yet to cut her hair short and shuck her shoes,

to revel in each sunburst and coffee ground, each smirk and chortle, raspy and shocking and free.

She had not yet found belonging in those syrupy endless moments of aquamarine light

that overtake the sky each winter noon and summer evening,

Sultry with the tang of secret solace and chlorine, every time a wonder, felt anew.


She had not yet wondered;

She had yet to know.

But she would –

But she will –

And I will be there waiting when she does.