Honorable Mention: 2022 Sandy Crimmins Poetry Contest
Dear Mr. Lorcan,
The last time I wrote to you the blueberries were here,
and Mom was showing me how to cut a tomato for the kill.
For one, the blueberry bush devoured my body whole
when I leaned in head first, hoping to find the perfect one for
you. A midnight pearl, musseled between two satiny leaves.
For two, you must use a serrated knife and saw, slowly. In
the kitchen beside the heap of pink seedy guts, Mom had said
garden gnomes do not make good friends. But you listen,
Mr. Lorcan, and you don’t tattle to the walls of the seventh grade
girls’ bathroom, telling them that Fiona Rice talks to the rabbits.
I talked to a rabbit. What was I supposed to do? Benny Wilks,
the eighth grade boy with the window-pane teeth and drawer-knob
elbows, snapped the baby white rabbit’s neck like a toothpick and
left her in a puddle of herself beside your ceramic shoes. She was
dead but she was also safe now—the honeysuckle vine that works its
way down the front fence and hooks around your ceramic pointed
hat was hooked around her, too, as if it were somehow you. When
Benny Wilks was gone, I scooped her soft, crumpled body into cupped
hands like a swallow of water. She needed a prayer or a poem. Leaning
in with my whole body, I said You were small and you were tender. It
made me miss being small and being tender. It made me want to cry,
but I didn’t. When mom saw the small ball of white musseled between
my two hands, she took it out to the dumpster and then scrubbed
my palms to the bone. Now use a serrated knife and saw, slowly, she
pointed to the three tomatoes waiting for their turn. I cut into each
one again, again, again until my hands were soggy with pink seedy guts.
How did you get to standing so still, Mr. Lorcan?
Sincerely, Fiona Rice
Mackenzie Kean is an English major and creative writing minor at Rutgers University. Her love for writing emerged from the poems, plays, songs, newsletters, unfinished novels, picture books, and online magazines she created and shared with her family throughout her childhood.