Now is the time when the Earth splits open beneath you,
when the shining eyes bare the veins, break the skin,
video the secrets.
Your voice is loud against the night but the streetlamp’s scream
will always be louder than you.

Now is the time when golden silence will stretch itself
across the open roads, the cornfields whispering
of the days to come while you whizz by
with your carbonated drinks and sandwich bags,
the only company you’ve got.

And I’d like to tell you:
Do not become a lyric to those songs on the radio.
Do not live your life in the shadow of other people’s inspiration.
Become a melody.

Now is the time when mother, father become obsolete,
the clouds too big to fill an endless sky,
and you aren’t sure anymore the color of her eyes, the wave of her hair,
the way your ears begged to hear the ring of her voice, yes:
This is the way of remembering.

Now is the time when books will be burned,
the blasphemy and the beauty flying out into the night
against the flames in your eyes,
caught by the bats on their midnight rounds.

And I’d like to tell you:
Do not let the boys with their big hands squeeze you too small.
Do not let the boys who want to hold you, to protect you,
trap you.

Now is the time when you burn with questions.
They singe your fingertips,
but when you try to ask them, only the silence of the walls replies,
changing you to become less of story, more of stone
so that the next time she pushes you away, no tears escape.

Now is the time when nothing is hypothetical,
every bleak detail is literal, is reality, is death.
Your lipstick stain on the coffee mug, your razor worn and bloodied
to match the nick on your cheek, your leg, your wrist.

You are everyone,
all these stains are yours and permanent.

Do not pretend anymore. 

First Place, Youth Category
Antioch Writers’ Workshop Poetry Contest

Mollie Grace Greenberg is a junior at the Miami Valley School in Centerville, Ohio, where she participates in theater, the school literary magazine, and Model United Nations, and is the president of an environmental awareness club. She has received awards for her writing in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards competition. She lives in Yellow Springs, Ohio, with her parents, and she loves rainy days, tea, friends, chocolate, acting, and books. For Mollie, writing poetry is a form of breathing.