Image of Long Story Short Award - Fall 2020
Image of Poetry
the water slips across my feet
like a blanket.

they held my hand,
protecting me from the cold
hiding me from the shadows that haunted my ceiling at night
swinging me toward the sky,
stopping me before I knew what freedom felt like.

the puddle teases
my ankle.

he carried me on his shoulders and
let me squeeze the wrinkly skin on his elbow.
she gave me stuffed animals to hug and
traced patterns across my stomach at night.

water brushes my waist.
my legs are paralyzed.

I sat in a booster seat
with a bib around my neck as
they removed the pacifier and
spoon-fed me equations until I
couldn’t remember that I was American.

a splash against my neck.
my body is numb.

they inhale sharply, then
smiling tightly
decided it was my choice.
they are liars
but I am purgatory.

the water rises around me,
consuming me.

I surrender.
because how do you tell the people who
gave you everything that you want to repay them with

it squeaks off.
it is too late.