2013 Junior Authors Poetry Contest Winner Category 1
Shira Hereld, Age 20, Connecticut, USA
New England, Post-Frost
Here, we don’t need fences.
Everyone knows to keep to himself
Each lawn out-greening the next,
Trees framing the houses like shutters.
We know instinctively not to touch anyone
Remain a concrete island, polite, respectful;
Don’t speak too loudly, laugh too often,
Cry in public, hug. A childhood of cul-de-sacs
Where none of the kids played together,
But where I lay alone, watching the stars fall.
We understand what is ours, what is other,
Feel it in our bones like the last cold gasp of winter.
We are people of late autumn, always looking ahead
To ending, to desolation, empty branches
And snow-sleeping roads. At our breakfast tables
Rivers seal over with ice, blizzards flurry
Through our cereal, clouds spit sleet into our milk
And we hunker down against the wind even in summer
Shrugging in our shoulders and staring down,
Always down at the cracks in the sidewalk
At sunburned worms and old gum.
When I was younger, I loved climbing trees
Slipping like Tarzan, like King Kong
Up towards the clouds. Sap dripping down my arms,
Cheeks spanked by twigs, I watched the pine-streaked sky
And waved back and forth in the breeze,
Halfway between flying and falling, winter and spring.
Now, too big for branches,
I learn to love the steady ground, the river, the hills.
The warm limbs of Earth that can love me back.
By night, I dream of birches and poetry
Of times when greater minds could write
The seams of the world together.
Seen from a thousand feet
In the air, these streets draw a map to nowhere.
There are no more fences here,
and no more neighbours.
This poem was inspired by my childhood in Connecticut, and my longing to bridge the invisible gap I still feel disconnects New Englanders from each other. I began thinking about Frost’s poetry, how he felt that same loneliness, and the tragedy that, so many years later, we are still raised to instinctually push others away. – Shira