Teen Poetry Contest Winner for 2007
Lanie Berk
King Lab Magnet School, grade 8

In the eyes of a first grader

Once I heard that word,
It was thrown in the dungeon
And I lost the key
It is trapped inside my mind
And it can’t come out

It’s also somewhere else
My mom
Except, she is trapped
C and A crackle, as she gets weaker
N and C make up a new battle plan
E and R are in there beds getting ready for the next attack
And every letter spreads
Like wildfire
She is at war
Cancer v. mom and doctors
And I have to watch

The fighting makes her sick
Nauseated, tired all the time
And her hair
Mom and the doctors are fighting hard
But cancer is not giving up

At one point mom has to leave for days and days
“When will I see her again?”
“How could she leave, and not even call?”
“When is my mom coming home?”

Battle surgery ended
Cancer had lost
Mom returned
I could see her battle scars
Blood dripping down from her back
I became scared
Will she win the next battle?

It was over
Cancer surrendered
Mom and the doctors won the war
But in the first graders eyes,
Something was still wrong
Her hair wasn’t grown back all the way
She was always sleeping
And cancer was still trapped in her mind
I lost the key

Every moment would have to be with my mom
Just in case
She had to battle again
I will give up play dates
To be with her

The shrink, social workers, teachers, and family said it was all over
But it is still trapped
Crying for help
“Let me out! Let me out!”
I couldn’t
I lost the key

One day
I find gold in the back of my head
I get close
Like sardines in a tin can
I dig through birthday parties, the math homework from last week
As if I were shoveling snow
Then, there it was
The key
I release c, a, n, c, e, and r
And I hope
They will never come back

These eyes
These are MY eyes
My eyes as a first grader