we were fragments

By Dana Blatte
10th grade, Sharon High School, MA
1st place contest winner

With lines from "A Teenager Starting Over in Canada" by Lacy Jane Roberts, Luisa Conlon, and Hanna Miller, a Pulitzer Center reporting project

i. death
boys wake beneath lacerated skies
and wonder where their families have gone,
learn to build their bones anew
while their fathers sit and smoke languid sighs
in a language foreign
to their ringing ears.

ii. the dust
this is what happened:
the sky dropped missiles like rain,
barrel bombs dusting chestnut skin
with chemicals and shrapnel,
young lives fractured
before their carcassed childhoods
and the husks of buildings
that now birth them into a diaspora,
a fragmentation
of bodies and souls.

iii. the rubble
O Canada, please
protect these children
who have waited for their turns to die,
who went out against their wills
and now repeat their stories in war-weary refrains because
maybe if we listen hard enough
surely we will learn the rules of life.

Dana Blatte
Dana Blatte

Dana Blatte is a rising junior at Sharon High School in Sharon, Massachusetts. An aspiring illustrator, author, and polyglot, she has a penchant for magical realism, fairy tales, and Mandarin. Even though Dana has only recently rediscovered her love of poetry, she is honored to be recognized by the Pulitzer Center. She hopes her poem can help shed light on the struggles refugees, especially children, and their families face as they attempt to integrate into new and unfamiliar worlds.

Read more winning entries from the 2020 Fighting Words Poetry Contest