Victoria Korth has earned an Honorable Mention in Streetlight’s 2021 Poetry Contest
You would unstick huge floor-to-ceiling windows
with a metal-clawed broom handle,
soak the floor where someone vomited,
clear sleeted walks while we waited in line,
quiet the boiler, keep water
flowing in fountains, walk
around the school’s perimeter in faded green pants,
head down, and into the basement
while in the classroom, at the window
or in the hall I watched you.
Although I have lived the question
of how one person knows the other
and accepted that we did not,
been struck with sadness at the airless space
I allow between us,
I have also assumed
this privilege: I knew you, I did.
And when the priest intoned
through him with him in him, in the unity of the holy spirit,
I was certain you could name wind’s listing place
and because you knew
I worried less. A child’s perspective
still mistaken at center of it all, reaching out
to those who seem to care,
on the last day of elementary school
I asked you to sign my journal with the light blue stripes,
sign as everyone had, and why
you took the pen in calloused fingers
for long seconds and—patiently, kindly—
drew a spindly X, marking us.
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