Please join us in celebrating Rhianna Searle ’23 who received a Silver Medal for her Reconstructing poetry collection in the 2022 National Scholastic Arts & Writing Awards. Her poetry was submitted to the national competition because she took home a Gold Key Award in the Philadelphia Region Awards contest. The Scholastic Arts & Writing Awards have championed and supported students’ originality and creative prowess for 99 years, bolstering their artistic and literary futures through opportunities for publication, exhibition, and scholarships. More than 260,000 works of art and writing were submitted to the regional contests this year.


Let us go then, you and I…(1)

…to make my mind a home.
Not the haunted mansion,
but the cottage in the woods.
I’d like to be tender,
not tentative.
I could invite myself in for a cup of tea
(honey in that?
yes of course, you know me so well)
We could use my cracked china
the stories of which we both know
and retell together.
I’ll help you do the dishes
(you wash, I’ll dry)
and we can remark,
holding saucers to the light,
how, like a stained glass window,
we find peace
in a stained dish towel.

1 Eliot, T.S.


Shoe Talk

The lunchroom laughs at photos of shoes. I silently judge American consumer habits.
(Remembering my middle school math teacher clearing space in a trunk full of shoes for our hot
Meals on Wheels deliveries.) I punctuate the conversation with smiles, trying to claim structure.

“They’ll notice your shoes. If you’re young, and want to impress your boss, it’s all in the shoes.”

I nod, and look down at my worn sneakers (complete with plastic inserts whose fabric dyes my
socks blue on hot and nervous days).

“There are these flats. Leather, with rope around the ankles. They’d look cute on you.”

The complement stings. It feels like rejecting a job.

What to say? How much to tell?




Low Muscle Tone

Ankles Turn In (like shy school children)

“I wear orthotics,” I explain.

“Oh. Well that’s different,” she allows. Frown.

I feel like I’ve come to the potluck table offering rotten eggs.

My orthotics lift my ankles like the corners of a mouth gently curving into a smile from a
compliment on a rainy day. Even here, even in the clumsy moments, in this body which is both a
burden and a blessing, I claim confidence. I rip out the soles, insert my supports, and my shoes
and I walk together, yoked.


“Hope” is shades of purple

It bothers me, those people
grinding their teeth with ballads of hope.
Too much time
hands held in prayer
not enough time
holding hammer and nails.

Hope seems to be in style,
as people adorn themselves in
full body hope,
wearing flip flops of inaction.
Hope should lace your hiking boots.

Hope ought to be
worn like cufflinks
or pearl earrings.
An amethyst amulet, perhaps,
that could capture dreams.

Hope is lavender, of course.
But if that vexes you,
we could compromise
on an undetermined
shade of purple.

An accent to determination,
contrast to despair on the color wheel.

When I lose hope,
I finger for her
in the sticky graveyard of childhood
between the couch cushions.
The other day,
I found her
outside in a corner with the potting soil
among the gardening gloves.

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