“Cadillac Mountain” by Hannah Straub

Hannah Straub (age 14)


I climbed until my calves caught fire.
I climbed until my braids became a nest.
At the very top, I could see everything.
Blue and green, stained red and orange,
Like blood, and beautiful. I remember
Most the jagged edges, rock slicing
The rubber of my shoes. I did not break,
Though the light threatened to cut me
Into pieces. Shaded eye, golden shoulder.
I worry sometimes that I’m crumbling
Anyway. Whether I’m shards or ashes,
Stones or sand, let me lie in the moss,
Or the gentle spaces in the curves
Of the trees the visitors wear away
With their desperate palms.
Their calloused hands steal the roughness
For themselves, fingers terrified to love
Their own softness, and the ease with which they
May break. Splinter. Shatter. Split.
So they steal, and while I rested there
I remembered that I was the vandal too,
That home is a place I have ruined.
I will remember that it is the only
Space that forgave me.
I blinked open and shut to the world.
No matter where I looked everything
Was distant. The wind chose then to show
How little it cared for me, pushing me
Surely towards the edge as I dug my heels
Into the granite. Though I was not falling
I was stumbling, in the way I clung to people
I could not reach, memories as useless
As the wire guardrails. I held on
To the fragile ties and swallowed the vista,
Eyes desperate, not like a thirst but like
A moment gained, used, wasted—
Wasted in the way that my vulnerability
Was always my first thought. My hands
Were shaking, but what terrified me
Was I wasn’t afraid at all. An apparition,
A split second, and I saw my gold wind
And green tears and it felt like a numbness.
The person I knew and didn’t understand
Stared back at me and I felt not quite love
But the hollow brink of it. And now, I look
Back in sparse recollection wondering if
The emptiness of that pinnacle knew
How much I had taken as I left it behind.

from 2021 Rattle Young Poets Anthology


Why do you like to write poetry?

Hannah Straub: “I like to write poetry because it is an art form that speaks to me and that I identify with unlike any other. Writing poetry has been a way for me to turn my observations and experiences into tangible reflections of how I see the world.”

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