Marin Poetry Center


By Odessa Goldberg

We have a bad habit of replacing humans with numbers,
as quantities added and subtracted to meet
predicted patterns of lines and charts and arrows
What if we replaced the numbers with flowers
:A football field worth of dandelions died today,
Three dozen sunflowers,
Enough bouquets to fill an entire room.
What if I told you
A forest was razed today
Enough petals fell today to be strewn from ocean to ocean

I am tired of seeing human lives fit along curves
I want if you zoomed in close enough to see faces
Like murals instead of graphs
Like heartbeats instead of trendlines
I wish I could handle the curve like saltwater taffy you get at the boardwalk
Stretched and sticky beneath my fingers
I want the math to be as dirty as the graves they’re digging
Like I want the math to be hard to bear
Hard to breathe through

I want new constellations for every funeral that won’t have any guests
and will only have ghosts
I want choruses that never stop singing because they have to sing the
of all who died and
everyone they’re survived by
I want continents constructed as memorials
I want cosmic action
I want someone to light a candle
A field of candles
So many candles when the International Space Station spins over us
We are glowing
Like we lit a match from the inside out

I want to carve these memories in our sediment
See those lines there
Those lines in red velvet dirt
People died there
People stayed inside there
People lived there

First Place: Odessa Goldberg
Tamalpais High School

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