“Golden Shovel: Self-Portrait in Fourth Grade” by Bella Cosentino

Bella Cosentino (age 14)


after David Graham, “Self-Portrait with Self-Doubt”

Some Tuesdays, when bordering ourselves at
What I named the dusty turf, leaves were pulled on the
Small twisters we threw plastic jewelry into while the playground
Sagged a little. It never was awfully hot or sticky, as 

Going to wait inside the hallway was too close to a
Retreat. Since the metal tube slide gave one shorts-wearing boy
A burn, handfuls of sand were flung inside to comfort while I 
Pressed my arms against my sides and hoped nobody saw

When I winced. There wasn’t much to show for myself, 
None of us had to ride the witch’s hat or stay in
Place on the trapeze rings with sliding hands, those
Rings still out of reach from the kids

I liked to watch when it got boring. The teachers,
Only sitting in the shade, called
Or hollered at the jungle gym kids, kids who felt special
When their name was heard over fumbling feet and those 

Cranky springs under the colored horses smiling like dolts. 
It’s not very easy to remember the faces of those 
Who I helped on the monkey bars, or the chumps 
That promised to catch when my hands would stumble, those 

Were nice. They’re attractive now, the harebrains 
I won’t recognize the same, appearing once in a while and 
Fizzing off as orange sodas I used to drink, babbling
Onto my tongue as though explaining through fuzzy fragments. 

from 2020 Rattle Young Poets Anthology


Why do you like to write poetry?

Bella Cosentino: “Poetry is a unique medium—its forms and lack of restraint give the writing a voice of its own. I can stumble in with a vague idea and be proud of the result in the end.”

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