2nd Place: Emma-Jade Cantrell
Junior, Dreyfoos School of the Arts
How to Avoid Hypothermia
find fire girl.
collect the flames that spew from her lips,
and don’t flinch when they scorch the hairs on your arms.
the smell of burnt wood will become your nostalgia,
so savor it, as if it were the smell of playdough or grape cough medicine.
replace the ice forming in your chest with fire.
place her hands on your shoulders and let
her melt you from the inside out.
don’t be surprised when you have to deal with
thawed emotions; the ones that have been frozen for decades.
warning: you may become dependent on her
gather the ashes she leaves in her trail.
make her every word your scripture and
let her criticisms mold you,
as if you’re the pool of hot wax beneath
her stamp. she will brand you as her creation.
and for the first time, you will have a family.
place the ash jar on a shelf.
she is an expiration date, and you can feel her heat rising.
prepare for the day she leaves you.
hope that her ashes still radiate heat so your hands
won’t freeze over again.
hope that she will remember you,
so that maybe once she’s gone you’ll be able to
create your own fire.
According to Final Judge, Dr. Jeff Morgan of Lynn University, Cantreall’s poem is “among a new generation of poets giving voice to social issues, cultures, experiences, imaginations, and lives.”