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First Thaw

Latin Heritage Month Contest Runner Up

CAS for Database

Elina Kumra

San Jose, CA, USA

Summit Tahoma High School


First Thaw

At the grave’s

symbolic lip, you are returned

to what’s undefined—like a letter

in a storm, a smudge on a shoe, a stain

on my sleeve. Your concept of me

like night perfume, and the stars

as poor as we can see them

through the glass. It’s all about objects—

silent protests

and your teeth against the cement. I finger

this vagabond cloth, the past.

My house laughs, rustles

like a dream in which I know

who I am. Memories

sharp as a shank

and salvaged from the earth’s

first thaw. Our love had been

an invention. What can belief do? Every now

and then, I try it on again—

love—like a beautiful coat

I can’t afford, my truth.

Ah, the light's retaliation,

profligate and rich.

Windows imposed riddles: only the lake

yielded, rippling with my touch.

The phone in the scullery promised

your voice. But when I answered,

silence greeted me. The receiver’s

coiled wire bound me—its ringing

like the ring I lost

to the deep pond-waters.

One day, I emptied your closet. Another,

and I saw my face reflected

in the mirror. I didn’t recognize

its ink. Soft-skinned, blue-eyed—here,

everything is rising: the moon, a balled-up shroud,

the petrichor of jasmine. Suddenly, you arrive

within me. I surrender myself to the grave’s

lip to ask what I never could of you:



What a read! [Kumra has] a great command over symbolic language. [She knows] how to add vocabulary richness to [her] writing so that it reads smoothly and cohesively. I really liked [the] comparison of love to be like a beautiful coat that could not be afforded and the way the ending was set up to have a staggering effect on the reader.


Elina Kumra, a 17-year-old high school student from San Jose, California, is a published writer with accolades from Scholastic Art and Writing, Up North Lit, Writer's Digest, Coffin Bell, Peauxdunque Review, StreetLit, Cathexis Northwest, Typishly, Nine Syllables, Reed Magazine, Quarterly West, and now Polyphony Lit. Beyond the written word, you can find Elina capturing fleeting thoughts in her notes app, meticulously deciphering Sandro Botticelli's works, or doing the dishes.

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