September 9, 2020

Imagine Your Story Winners

BAPL would like to thank all of our participants for participating in the first-ever Summer Reading Writing Contest, “Imagine Your Story.” For the writing contest, the community was asked to submit an original prose or poem imagining their lives through the eyes of COVID-19. Participants responded through their writings what it’s been like living through a pandemic. Three winners were selected for prizes, which were generously provided by the Friends of the Library! Congratulations to Joseph W., Allie E., and I.F. Evans who won first, second, and third place in the contest. We’ve included their entries below for the whole community to enjoy!

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First Place

Joseph W.
“Breath Like Moths Against a Window”

I wake when the moths knock against my window,

pulling back and diving in confusedly to get close to the light—

that gentle thump of something unknowingly

wrong,

like curiously tapping a fishbowl or piling grains of sand in

a shallow hourglass.

Like them, I’m drawn to the window to peer out at the coming summer pooled in

the moonlight,

and I feel the world breathing again,

with that low April breeze and the foxes snickering and tumbling in the flowers,

with the sputter of traffic stopped up and left in driveways and along streets,

with the grass blades so green and the cherry blossoms so pink,

with the magnolia tree reflecting soft light into my room,

with the moths knocking against my window.

 

Then why is everything so still?

Why do the cornfields sit pale and cracked like thin-worn hands from too much

washing?

Where are the faraway trains’ click-clack and blaring horns?

Where is the crackle of roaring firepits and grills?

Who’s silenced the playground screams and bus stop chatter?

Who’s taken the jangle of distant festivals and concerts?

Who’s plucked the trudging airplanes from the sky?

Have all the church bells crumbled to the ground?

Could there even be a funeral?

Where are all the gregarious gatherings not tinged with

guilt?

Where are all the goodbye hugs not wrapped in a hush?

Where are all the goodnight kisses not laced with poison?

When will my folks not look so scared and unsure?

When will my brother emerge from his bedroom?

When will my friends and I meet again?

Where is that nightly purr we listen for when we can’t sleep, that reminds us that

we and the world still breathe?

Why is it all just moths knocking against the window?

 

And like their vision, this window is a contrast of colors and faces begging

me to choose.

What life is in this breath becomes a mirror, an artist, another:

a happy face with bleach on its lips,

an impression with rusted bumps on its skin,

an idle image with eyes bloodshot from blue light,

a squirming, squiggling me trapped in all the air bubbles and

glassy imperfections—

what I see when I get close enough,

with the familiar moths knocking against it.

 

But this Earth, these countries and states, this land—I still breathe with the

passing summer:

Drumming with millions of marchers in the wake of murder;

Pulsing with the stalwart hum of doctors, nurses, scientists, firemen and

paramedics, sanitation workers and custodians, teachers, shop owners, factory

and warehouse workers;

And writhing with these bare faces, pretty speeches, and acceptable losses

looking in on me from my window on an August night cooled by the remnants of a

tropical storm,

like those moths that would knock and wake me—

too soon to go back to sleep against

these crooked raindrops,

too soon to breathe like before when

we were close enough.

 

Second Place

Allie E.
“Remember Covid, Remembering Me”

The world has been hushed

It’s early yet

The morning sky is about to burst

Today is no ordinary day

Today I will attempt to home school my daughter for the thirty-second day in a row

I am thirty-two years old

She is five

Most days end with both of us in tears and yelling

I tell myself that I can do hard things

 

I’ve been isolated long enough that I started to read again

I hold a book to my face and close my eyes

I run my thumb over the crisp pages and I inhale the fictional breeze

That smell

The smell of a new book

It takes me back to wandering shelves in Waldenbooks

I remember getting excited for book fairs at school

I can see myself sitting in my room or in the car

In a hotel or on an airplane

On the beach or in a tent

With a brand new adventure in my hands

Imagination gone wild

 

There are always people walking past the house now

Some wear masks

We don’t because we are walking the dog to get fresh air

To exercise and to get out from being in for so long

It is inevitable that my daughter has to come grocery shopping with me

We wear masks

She knows that there is a virus and that’s why we wear them

We have to keep ourselves safe and help keep others safe

She knows this

So when we’re in the coffee aisle and her mask slips off her ear she yells, “Oh no!”

Pure panic

Pure calm

I tell her, “It’s okay. We can fix it.”

She is so aware

She is lonely

She is sad and frustrated

She misses her teacher

She misses her friends

She wants to hug her Grandparents again

She wants to play at the park

I tell her that she can do hard things

 

It’s hot outside

We get ready to go into our new pool that is a mere two and half feet deep

My daughter loves it

Sunscreen

I could breathe in my daughter’s skin for hours after I put sunscreen on her

When I’m finished she closes her eyes, “Mm-mm, it smells like Summer.”

Yes

It smells like a day at the beach

It smells like building sand castles and diving into waves

It smells like a walk on the boardwalk

Water and salt

Sunscreen and sunshine

 

I had a dream a few weeks ago

There was this undeniable pressure on my chest

I couldn’t breathe I woke up gasping for air that could not reach my lungs quick enough

It was terrifying

Someone told me it sounded like I had a panic attack in my sleep

Awesome

Nothing is normal anymore

Maybe nothing was normal to begin with

I didn’t get much time to do a lot of soul searching during this pandemic

But as long as I have my daughter, my dog, a new book and some sunscreen

I am found

 

Third Place

I.F. Evans
“Apoppycockalypse”

Pundits and prognosticators, a plethora of prophecies—

pure poppycock.

The apocalypse happened.

We plodded on, pretending it didn’t.

 

Is it a testament to our resiliency

that we plowed right through,

or a testament to our stupidity

that we didn’t even pause to ponder

the precarious position in which we’ve been placed?

 

Famine, Pestilence, War, and Death.

The four horsemen arrived. We paid them no mind.

Famine was first, but nobody spoke up.

We produce so much product, but poverty’s the problem.

A preposterous percent of people in the most prosperous nations

struggle each day to put food on their plates.

 

When Pestilence appeared, it was more palpable—

the first wave of the virus being painfully pernicious.

What we didn’t account for, was it perhaps just the precursor?

More virulent viruses could soon come our way.

Produced, propagated, or new evolutions,

we’re at risk for more plagues as we limp along.

 

War popped up next, in a devious way.

The wars overseas—while appalling—were distractions

pulling perception away from the wars brewing

right under our noses.

Race. Sex. Gender. Religion. Beliefs.

Integral parts of who we all are,

and sadly, grounds for some people to hate.

 

That brings us to Death,

the last of the promised horsemen.

I hear the hooves of the pale horse now.

Is it too late to stop it? Are we as a whole predestined to perish?

What panacea can prevent our extinction?

 

Giving. Caring. Loving. Living.

The four horsemen of a new golden age.

Share what you can with poor neighbors in need.

Take care of others when they’re feeling peaked.

Love one another, as you want to be loved.

Live and help live; don’t be part of the problem.

Let’s turn the end times to party times, and pass into a new era.

______________________________

Thank you to all who participated!

 

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