Second place, Poetry -- 'Two Erasers'

 
By Julia Pedersen
Arlington Heights
Posted4/8/2022 4:51 PM

I never wrote in pen.

It was always a perfectly sharpened pencil, and two erasers,

 

just in case.

A fear gripped to me, that there would be a mistake I couldn't fix,

a mistake no one could fix.

I ripped out pages of my pink frilly notebook if the writing

wasn't pristine.

I quit hobbies when the yarn wouldn't loop, or the needle

wouldn't thread.

I couldn't understand why nausea creeped up my leg when my room wasn't clean, or the books were out of place.

If a good day was a good day why couldn't tomorrow be the same.

I was infatuated with one word, one lonely and solemn word.

I didn't want to be lonely.

So I attempted to let go of it letter by letter:

P.

E.

R.

F.

E.

C.

T.

It seeped out my hands like syrup sticking to the carpet and paper, and pen.

I grasped the tacky, gummy, pen and began to write.

I began to write an imperfect, horrible, amazing story.

Judge's comment: This poem uses language in a way that really amplifies and clarifies the speaker's feelings. Whether or not we share this speaker's particular anxiety of perfectionism, we can easily relate to how that anxiety has become an uncomfortable trap for the speaker. I love the contrasts in the final line -- it IS "imperfect" to push "horrible" next to "amazing" -- and the free feeling it gives the reader to know that the speaker of the poem has finally released themselves from that cage.

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