May 19, 2012

Throwback Thursday: Little Ellie, By Caroline Yu

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
Summer sunsets.
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.


Lissa said...

This is beautiful and poignant.

Anonymous said...

This is a very beautiful rendition of “The Little Match girl”; it takes a little bit of the sadness away from the story so that one may feel the happiness that she may have felt from being reunited with her grandmother. The imagery of what her grandmother sees as she looks down upon her is amazingly tender and heartbreaking, to witness your loved one suffer so, but at the same time know that they will soon be wrapped in your arms. I love the idea of her grandmother is sending her small gifts of comfort to ease her through her final moments of life. I can almost hear her calling to little Ellie to let her know her grandmother is close by and she’s waiting to hold her, to let her know that there won’t be anymore suffering or fear anymore. Thank you for this beautiful poem of love

Anna W.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading this retelling of the "Little Match Girl" through the view point of the grandmother. It is a story of the grandmother describing the girl's last moments, until a lasting reunion with the two. The woman had to love the girl from a distance for so long from Heaven. It reminds me of a grandmother watching their grandchild grow up through pictures, because they have such a distance between them, and they finally see each other again after so long. I can feel the love this grandmother had for her granddaughter through the way the little girl was described. This story tells us that the visions the girl saw were gifts from her grandmother, which showed how she help put the girl at peace while she was dying. It is also special that her grandmother was sent from Heaven to receive the girl to her new home, because even Hans Christian Andersen's story could have told that it was an angel that came to receive her. The reception to Heaven from her grandmother made this a warm and special event to the girl, and adds to the story that she was to be with the one person she knew to love her in life, and that love was never lost.

~Angella M.~