Margaret Shultz, age 18

2012 National Finalist


I’ve been a long time coming,
friend. Nevertheless,
corn grows and the earth
sheds nitrates to kill the
fish and friend, forgive me,
I’ve missed you. It is
probable that humans have destroyed
rivers. A river, such a strong,
sweet thing. How could it be
destroyed? But we did it. We did
not speak for many years.

Listen to yourself in tunnels and
caves, listen for the echo, the
answer, the why and wherefore,
for I have forgotten
how to live a decent life
and, friend, I need you,
like I need ankles to stand
on and rivers to stand in.


Margaret Shultz, age 18
Iowa City, Iowa

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