Sacrifice

Sabrina Guo

Syosset, NY

Syosset High School

Poetry

Dedicated to all those who are no longer with us

following the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas

High School Florida shooting on February 14, 2018



In old Christian myths

women and children

were entombed


for protection against

disasters of weather


or war: virgins lost

to German lakes,

infants buried under


castle fortresses and bridges

to ward off tsunamis

or armies.


But the songs

of the sacrificed

are never silent—


they become wind

over the ocean,

howling


long after

each fortress crumbles.


This, Peter Wang knew

the moment he heard the blasts

of the AR-15 semi-automatic.


Buffeted by the screams,

he held the door for his classmates

and his teachers, bound


to act with honor

by his Junior reserve uniform

of pressed grey-blue,


with a gold-pinned,

black insignia stitched

into the shape of wings


across his shoulders—

a hero, even as fear

staggered through him.


No time to think, just

the torrent of his blood

like a gash of grief


in his mother, heaving sobs,

begging to wake

from her nightmare:


Baby, hold my hand,

she says, Reach me.


Newsprint can’t capture

Peter Wang’s casket

as it is carried away,


stars and stripes

blanketing his memory,

still in uniform,


buried

with a Medal of Heroism,

and a Certificate of Appointment


to West Point, 2025—

the year he would have graduated.


We share the same birthday, he and I,

except one of us

will smell the fresh-cut grass


of a college campus

and remember

what’s been lost. Our stories


will never overlap,

except in the gentle March breeze

as I walk to school, whispering


through half-open windows, to the soft

flap of curtains, to the silhouette—

in the silence, I listen.

EDITORIAL PRAISE

Much like the desensitized manner in which teenagers speak today, this sharp, witty voice doesn’t quite obscure the genuine sadness beneath. Irony and a deeper sense of grief seep through the fast-paced writing; the resulting story leaves its reader feeling a strange mixture of amusement and sorrow without quite knowing why.

Sabrina Guo attends Syosset High School in Syosset, NY, class of 2023. She is the recipient of five National Gold Medals and the Civic Expression Award from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Her work is featured in the Best Teen Writing, Counterclock, The Phoenix, Canvas Literary Journal, among others.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR