2023 Barrett Winner

3rd Place Kalimah Gardner

It calls for me, like the moon calling out to the night.
Like the wind howling for the leaves to dance to its every command. Obedient.
I feel its crooked breath as it clings to my neck.
Plaguing my mind as my eyes begin to fade.
Falling slowly into its poisonous hymns.
I can feel the noose tighten as it wraps around my neck, and I begin
to remember the little girl, bearing her trophy.
I try hard to resist. Remembering what it feels like to smile.
The sun kissed my brown skin.
The gentle wind pecks my cheeks till I chuckled.
And warm hands caressed my sorrows till I was no longer a product of hate.
A weeping child birthed into a world of sin. I try to resist.
A girl baring the scars unrightfully given. I try to forget.
Dressed in clothes she tried to tare. I try to forget.
Tried. Tried to forget the young girl who bared the cross,
given from hands she tried to escape.
A nightmare wrapped in gold, shining in the moonlight.
A trophy. Wrapped around her neck she has no choice but to carry.
It weighs her down but foolishly, she smiles as it's her cross to bear.
She walks, stumbling, but her trophy always stays upright.
Her skin reeks as life showed her no mercy, yet her trophy gleams
like dew on a Sunday morning.
She cries as she begs for the spoils of life, yet her trophy shines
in prosperity.
But, it’s her cross to bear.
And soon, night will cover all,
and birth another girl, who’s destined to bear the cross.