2012 National Finalist

they did not speak in grayscale, they spoke quietly

I do not know what words go with what,
if monsters are always sleeved in silk,
or if the things I put in my mouth
are not apart from me.

Sometimes I make a mistake and there’s
a careful red X where lies were:
sunsets are ends, not beginnings
and tired men sigh out paper vases

instead of saying “cuckoo.”  I just see it that way
in a distortion of a nightmare where my
brothers speak in grayscale, where they tell me
to turn northwest or toward the closest sea.

I do not know if the sky is cerulean or tangerine.
I do not know what words go with what:
But is it apart from me when it touches
Or only after I swallow the gem?

Cathy Guo, age 15
Madison Connecticut

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