1-14-16: It's cold outside today, but this terrific poem was originally published in May of 2012.
Editor's note: It's warm outside, but Caroline Yu's winning poem for May evokes all the snowy beauty and sadness of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Match Girl."
Oh my little one, I see you’re drenched in rags.
Your bare feet stagger through the snow,
Frosting each street
This last day of the year.
The matches wrapped in
Your hand turned damp.
I watch you wander, searching for
Somewhere that isn’t home,
Searching for me.
Cold cannot touch me here.
Even so, you warm me with your
Cheeks, glowing redder than
My heart bubbles like
A boiling stew pot.
I ache to reach down,
And wrap you close.
Your hair still hangs golden,
Glinting with snowflakes
That won’t melt in the cold.
With a smile you lift your head,
Searching these stars,
A poor girl’s diamonds,
Searching for me.
You are closer.
My moonlight beckons you to a house corner.
Your shivers whisper to strike a match.
The flame ignites, growing to glowing visions.
Would that you knew they hail from me!
Granddaughter, I send you a stove,
Warmer than the summer night
When you were born,
When your star streaked from this heaven,
To earth. To me.
Your second match sputters.
I share a sizzling feast,
Grander than your tongue has tasted since losing love,
Since losing me.
I snap the turkey’s wishbone,
And I beg for you.
Your final match flickers.
Granddaughter, I give you a
Christmas tree decked with steady candles,
Blazing brighter than my stars.
Have you caught their glow in your eyes?
Do you sense your loved one at last?
You knit your net of hope with heartstrings,
Capturing my light as the match dies,
And a star falls.
Heaven has sent the one you longed for.
Oh my little one, snuggle in my arms.
Let your laughter shake this sky
As we rise to home,
And our new year begins.
Biography: Caroline Yu has previously sold a play to Play’s children’s magazine, and published a poem with Berry Blue Haiku. Two of her short stories received honorable mentions in the 2007 and 2010 Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competitions.
Image by Anne Anderson.