If our eyes were fast enough to read a coin as it flips in the air, the sides might read "Hello" and "Good-bye." Yet, when it comes to the lives of people around us, this perspective is hard to come by. How is it that a teenager can express it so well?
Jude Marx is a 16-year-old high school junior at Cottonwood Classical Preparatory School. She is active in the Albuquerque slam community and attended the Iowa Young Writers' Studio(!) this past summer. When she is not busy studying, she enjoys writing, reading, rock climbing, making art, and taking walks in the Bosque.
Your sister called to warn you
She was about to lose the house
And all you could think about
Was that pearl engagement ring
Your mother told you
To make sure to get
When everyone was dead,
The one she always wore
Because it was her best piece of jewelry—
She didn’t want gold or diamonds,
Just a pearl
Some woman risked her body for
As she dove 120 feet below
The surface of the ocean.
This is the story of the oyster,
That single grain of sand,
The soft body
Wrapping light into an orb.
Soon there will be nothing left
Already there is almost
But your mother’s hands
Before they twisted and grew limp.
Like rotting branches,
Her knuckle holds the story of
Light caught up in a tiny, white sphere.
As you lay awake at night
The air filled with the sound of her hands,
The click of mahjong tiles
The voices of women
The little bits of laughter.
You remember what your father
Used to yell in his sleep,
Something about men
And shutting the door.
You remember how you used to eat
Oreos inside out
While your mother’s hands knit lace dresses,
You try to remember
What your grandmother’s voice sounded like,
Try not to think of your mother
Collapsing in on herself,
Caught between life and death
Like all those horror movies
You wish you hadn’t seen.
These days you paint portraits
Of yourself wearing your mother’s face,
Watch wrinkles form on your cheeks,
Feel your knees begin to creak,
Wonder who is going to risk
Her body next
To dive for the pearl.
Poetry submissions are welcome. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.