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Grand Prize and First Place, Poetry, Grade 10-12 : Still Life

Hannah Gershel,17

I stare into the mirror for a long time, looking at my eyes

Behind me, you point at different corners of the room with your camera

Coming to rest under the table, on the viola

Personally, I would have snapped a photo of the bowl of grapes

In a square of light beside the kitchen sink

Because they remind me of a song in my mind

You leave the room in search of better light, and I hope you don’t mind

That I took your reading glasses from the drawer because they confuse my eyes

And now that I’m alone, I stumble around in search of the kitchen sink

Listening for the distant shutter-click of your busy camera

Until my hand finds its way to the bowl of grapes

I pick one, and it tastes like a tart chord played on the viola

I remember when you used to play that old viola

And I would construct intricate dances to your music in my mind

And you had a song that you called “Sour Grapes”

Because that’s how you described the color of my eyes

And you snapped up that color in your camera

And developed it, and washed off the chemicals in the sink

You played another song called “Begin to sink”

And it made you sad to play, and after, you’d put down your viola

And hide away with the photos from your camera

Because they’re better than the pictures in your mind

And we’d both pretend there wasn’t water in your eyes

Like the sting of sour grapes

My mouth is tart from the bitter grapes

So I throw them away in the bin beneath the sink

And push my fingers under your glasses to cover my eyes

And I imagine smashing your old viola

And crushing it into a million pieces, like the pictures in my mind

And taking a photo of the destruction with your stupid camera

I hear the snap of the shutter on your camera

And turn to look at you with eyes like sour grapes

And I wonder if we fit together, the pieces in your mind and in my mind

You help me to my feet and I steady myself on the kitchen sink

And your voice is thick, like the dust on your viola

And you brush away the tears under my eyes

You tell me how hard it is to capture my mind with your camera

And so you settle on photos of my eyes, like sour grapes

Because they help you to sink into my face, like the song you’ve forgotten how to play on your viola


By Hannah Gershel, 17