The Earth Shakes

By Deeya Prakash
10th Grade, Sycamore High School, OH

With lines from "With Her Head Held High" by Kalpana Jain, a Pulitzer Center reporting project

They killed her father first.
The memory is worn 
Like a word uttered too many times
The sounds ironically unfamiliar as they roll off her tongue
And yet 
She remembers the minutest details of the day when her father was burned to death. 
Unspoken goodbyes and unfulfilled ambitions
Flowing red.

She was told that
When a big tree falls, the earth shakes
But with an arrow in her heart
And her eyes ablaze,
She watched.
Watched the
Trunks crashing
Twigs snapping
Wind howling.
As even then
The earth remained still.

Move it
They teased
Turning her blue
Move it
They taunted
Shooting her husband
Move it
They sneered
Turning her pointed finger 
Towards herself

But as she turned away
The large sum hovering over her crippled frame
As she collected statements and gathered evidence
The patriarchy hissing at her to relent
As she watched the gavel hit the sound block
The country's mouths agape
She felt a tremor

For when a big tree falls, the earth shakes.

Deeya Prakash
Deeya Prakash

Deeya Prakash will be a junior this upcoming school year at Sycamore High School in Cincinnati, Ohio. From a very young age, Deeya has been passionate about writing, spending hours upon end drafting poems, stories, and even short memoirs in her countless notebooks. She has been privileged to receive recognition at the local, state, and national levels, and is honored to be a finalist for this year's contest. If she is not writing, she can most likely be found reading, playing golf, swimming, drawing, or advocating for teen mental health. Having been affected by mental illnesses in her community, she hopes to bring light to such an important issue, and continue to take steps towards breaking the stigma.

Read more winning entries from the 2020 Fighting Words Poetry Contest