Student Poem

Sliver of a Life
by Niyathi Chakrapani

She had told the reporter,
“I loved him, I loved him,”
But the newspaper only printed it once.
There was also
A quote from his favorite baseball player;
Some clammy, optimistic Bible text;
His birthday, a mere memory now;
Awards from college, received years ago
In subjects he did not pursue;
Names of family members he had not talked to in years;
Meaningless compliments;
His job, which he hated more than one could imagine;
A blurry picture with too much sunlight and exposure;
And his love of the Yankees,
Quite understated in saying he merely “loved the team.”

She had told the reporter,
“I loved him, I loved him,”
With the tears that she abhorred
Sprinting down to her fragile chin,
Pouring down like livid rain.
The reporter feigned pity and said,
“I am sorry, ma’am. This must be hard.”
She wanted to punch his contrived smile.
There was anger and sorrow in her eyes,
The most pitiful of combinations.

And when she read the newspaper that day
She took all the liquor in the house
And smashed their bottles
Till the shards became paste,
Sprinkled across the now-chipped wooden floor
Like freshly fallen snow.

The little square of words,
A banal sliver of a life,
Or a stanza trying to compensate
For a beautiful elegy.
The meaningless banter of a child,
Repartee and badinage,
A cruel joke played with good intentions
On the most mournful of souls.

For in that little square of words
There was no mention
Of how he always got ice cream on his nose,
And laughed as she wiped it off and licked her finger;
Of his yellow, pirate-like grin
Which could light up the room
More than the whitest and straightest of insincere smiles;
Of how he refused to leave the stadium
After the Yankees lost
Because he couldn’t bear to be in his home, in comfort,
With the thought of their failure looming in his mind;
Of how he cooked Thanksgiving dinner
Because she had a fever that weekend,
And though they both ate burned turkey that year,
It was the best turkey they ever had.

As she told the reporter,
“I loved him, I loved him,”
She knew she would never drink again
For the drunkenness of another
Was what had killed her love.
After that vow she grabbed the last bottle of brandy
And threw it over her fence,
As far as her slender arms could bear,
Knowing her pain lay in that bottle
And wishing it could shatter as easily.
There was anger and sorrow in her eyes,
The most pitiful of combinations.

She ran back to the newspaper,
Intent on ripping it to shreds,
But could not bring herself to harm
That little square of words,
A banal sliver of a life,
The last dregs of a forgotten eulogy
Spoken only in her mind.

For on that paper there was printed
A quote from his favorite baseball player;
Some hopeful Bible text;
His birthday, a loving memory now;
Awards from college, received years ago
In subjects he wished he had pursued;
Names of family members who loved him;
Innumerable compliments;
His job, which he only continued out of love;
A picture taken in a beautiful meadow;
And his love of the Yankees,
Quite understated in saying he merely “loved the team,”
But stated nonetheless.
And bottommost of all there was printed
Three simple words, more innocent without repetition,
Quoted with a name:
“I loved him.”

So she clutched the paper to her heart
And let fall her abhorred tears.

 

 

Niyathi Chakrapani is a 15-year-old poet from Sammamish, Washington who received four regional gold medals and a national silver medal for her literature in the Scholastic Young Artists and Writers national competition, as well as several local awards in the KCLS library system’s Rhyme On! competitions and the Issaquah Youth Board Poetry Slam. Niyathi loves to write poems about her deepest feelings and observations about the world, as well as to put herself in the shoes of other people and write poems from their perspective. She also loves to write and perform songs, volunteer, and eat chocolate.


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