I know that you think

that the wooden frame of your shoulders

was made for the hoisting of our world

I know you feel a fire in yourself

and look out over a mass of ice

wondering what good that will do to fan this flame


When the straps of your backpack broke

I know you had an image of women

in Kenya and Sierra Leone and Ghana

with water and grains and cloth high on their heads

and I could tell yours was preparing to lift

preparing to take the suffering of all your sisters

upon yourself


In the end you could only carry your backpack

and your neck ached for days afterwards

and you stepped in an icy puddle on the way home from school

and slowly that water traveled up

and the fire in you



I know you read poems in the dark

anxiously flipping through the book for something

that will speak to your soul  

I know the pain of all your mothers

(Virginia, Sylvia, Anne)

wraps around you tightly


It suffocates to be the only one awake

to see the clock blinking an indefinite 4 AM

to know that your figurative pockets are full of stones

but there are no rivers nearby


I know no word has ever felt as true

as the world calamity

and the ticking of the clock invites no solace

(“Time does not bring relief you all have lied”)


But I know, too

that when the sun rises in the east tomorrow

(as it did for Edna, did for Adrienne and Audre)

you will rise with it

and put on shoes you are grateful to own


and your own mellifluous heartbeat

will keep time

as you continue to walk

—head held high, the way they held theirs—

into the foggy morning sun


Photo by Enrico Spada.

Claudia Maurino is a junior at Monument Mountain Regional High School in Great Barrington MA. She has loved to write, read, and act since she was very young, and endeavors to do all three as frequently as possible —both inside and outside of school. Lately, poetry has been her main writing focus and it brings her so much joy to express emotion and puzzle out problems through art. She thinks poetry is a way to make sense of the world around you in an artistic manner that is entirely your own. She recently won a Scholastic Art & Writing Gold Key Award for her poem “Between the Honey and the Comb.”