“Dear Holden,” by Julia Spande

Julia Spande (age 14)


We like to take our time
and Time likes
to take its toll—
let’s retreat into the duck pond
and listen to Little Shirley Beans
before our ears are tuned to the drone
of those Ivy Leagues.
I want to unravel the world
(that hand-me-down sweater)
and let thread cartwheel around our tongues
before we
chew the fat
with mechanical jaws.

I can’t deny I’m scared for us—
I can hear our footsteps,
our dragging heels
walking towards
the grey-footed precipice in the golden rye.
One day (maybe soon)
we’ll fall like grains of sand
in an hourglass
or turtle-necked boys out a window
and no soft hands
will pluck us from the edge.

We built skyscrapers out of checkers
and homes in the Neolithic past—
our feet melted
during the fox trot,
stung as they pounded the streets.
We aren’t stagnant,
legends cast in ageless, audacious
bronze or marble;
we aren’t even porcelain horses
on a merry-go-round.

Let’s save immortality for that phony Zeus.
You can put on
your red hunting cap
and I’ll crawl into the folds of your life
and maybe
we’ll stop the fall from hurting so bad.

from 2018 Rattle Young Poets Anthology


Why do you like to write poetry?

Julia Spande: “Growing up, I was cripplingly shy. I only talked to my parents, my (very) small circle of friends, and my teachers if necessary. I was bursting with ideas, interesting tidbits, and pure passion, but I shoved my words down my throat until they faded into irrelevance. Poetry was the only way I knew how to speak. I channeled every thought and passing whim into metaphors, every question I wanted to ask into its own stanza. Poetry was my way of interacting with the world I was scared to participate in. Although my reticence was only a childhood phase, I still use poetry to interpret and communicate with my surroundings. With every poem I write, I feel my world come into sharper focus.”

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