Shape Poem by Erica Sternin

Erica Eight

I was eight and still cherished, and beloved, and the principal
of my fancy-shmancy-scholarship-funded school attended by
sons and daughters of Senators and Justices, called my parents.
Come to the office for a meeting. Daddy took the day off,
and picked up my mother, who didn’t drive,
together they anxiously sat, my mom with
a dress on (!) and her knees together,
in the principal’s office.
trying to look straight,
to not look like hippies
phone was tapped,
not  like people
who smoked dope
at the dinner table.
“Your daughter, concerned, brain tumor, neurological testing…
sample of her writing,” the principal produced a sheet of paper,
crooked text hugging the midline of the page, spreading at the
top and the bottom, like a mushroom cloud, like an apple core,
Like a shape poem.

Still proud, 40 years later, Daddy giggles,
Shape poems. I showed them to you, we were reading them, avant garde poetry,
you made your own shape


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