Say we had poetry then.
by Liza Porter
Something to pull our drowning bodiesFirst Place WinnerThird Place Winner
out of the sea of fear we struggled in every day.
Say we sat in the dark of our room,
backs against your twin bed,
feet pointed toward mine, toenails shining
under the moon as it peeked through a crack
in the drapes, a small flashlight illuminating the pages
of some book that appeared from the sky -
out of nowhere we would say. Maybe God sent it.
Say we had poetry then and the words in that book
pierced our hearts as Cupid would much later in our lives,
opened them wide with awe and hope, like the hymns we'd sing
in church choir dressed in pale blue robes performing
the same way we had to the rest of the week at home.
Say this book of poems
fell from the sky into our laps one night, the words
filling our souls with so much light
we couldn't hold it, we would burst into stars
we had to make up our own songs - me the melody, you the harmony,
and those songs were ours, forever, we would never forget them.
Say we had poetry then and our songs drifted out the cranked-open
window and floated into that southern California night, the sky
balmy with the ocean so close by, what if our voices
swam into the mist that gathered in droplets on car windows
by morning and burned off by noon, like the blue fog did
each Sunday on the coast in summer, by the time we got to our haven,
the beach, and ran from the station wagon across the sand
into the waves without a sound and floated out into the salt water
as if we'd found a new womb to rock us.
Say we had poetry then, and our songs flew out the open window
of our room and into the neighbors' houses the next morning
through screen doors, the sound so sweet - who can possibly resist the
voices of innocent girls - and what if those songs somehow transformed
their lives, as they couldn't ours, for our paths were preordained,
I see now, but what if the words that escaped from our throats
back when darkness was safer than light, when silence
seemed the only reasonable reply, say those songs actually made it
out from between our lips and helped someone live a better life.
Made the Vietnam war death of Lieutenant Jordan next door
easier for his widow and daughters to bear, made the eyes
of those two ugly girls in the house on the other side shine with
themselves and their fate.
Say we had poetry then, later, of course,
after the light became safe,
after the silence became