Monday, July 26, 2010

OYSTER: A 2010 Scholastic Writing Award-Winning Poem

Every month, we'll be selecting written student works to feature on our blog. Our summer intern, Amherst College Junior Rick Morgan, selected this month's poem, Oyster.

ANDREW SHACHAT, General Writing Portfolio Silver Medal, Poetry

Ruby heel to cold concrete, she struts
her silhouette out against the streetlight.
Her powdered nose tilts toward heaven
like a refined pink pearl bursting
from an exhausted oyster on a gritty shore.

Tonight, she’ll tangle wayward gentlemen
in her black fishnets like a school of lost soles.
Dull men with balding heads are kings
against her worn hands, gods against thighs.
Bourbon breath melts the rouge on her cheeks.

She’s too young for her cracked skin, too old
for plaid skirts and coy winks from red eyes.
I look out from my bedroom window and wonder
what makes a woman work the same street
she would hop-scotch down as a child every Sunday
after church.

Her exhales glimmer against the moonlight,
each smoke cloud one more ham sandwich,
an extra hour at daycare, last month’s rent.

Our eyes meet through the windowpane for a moment,
and I send her warmth, and her spine shivers,
thrusting another lustrous pearl from her depths.

Summer Intern Rick Morgan shares why he chose this poem to feature: The language in Oyster is too beautiful to ignore and is the main reason why I chose to single this piece out. The woman selling her body on the corner is a bleak scene, much like an oyster dug into the sand. The rough nature of her business threatens to destroy her delicate grace: “Bourbon breath melts the rouge on her cheeks.” Despite the grim scene that this poem paints, the last stanza gives the reader some hope for this woman. She may face hardship every night, but she won’t stop producing her subtle, illustrious pearls.

Image Credit: Laundromat. Jaclyn Wilson, 2010 Photography Portfolio Silver Medalist. Grade 12.


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