Home > Chapbook Finalists 2011 > Summertime Locker

Summertime Locker

September 21, 2011

from From the Grey by Susannah Lior

When they took me in
under wings of prestige, white feathers
glowed like new
shelter sprung from darkness

I thought I had found
home in a park picnic
with the seniors,
older siblings I never had making
hamburgers and lemonade

On the grassy hill,
afternoon idols clutched
stories of hallway hijinks
like war medals or
debating trophies,

prizes plucked from memory’s shelves and
pooled with their comrades’
for a richer treasury —

On display behind glass, small
museum in the school foyer,
it was a show they curated laughing,
arms grappled like hoops of steel.


The stories that didn’t fit:
edited out
of the yearbook

The public record of portraits:
laminated name tags, matching faces
for wearing to lockers

Little fish in my summertime locker —
last gasps ballooning, deflating a
see-through sandwich bag —
breathed the last
idea of home
out of me;

I was submerged in a sea
of pulled faces,
dead girl’s float

where schools of guppies swim by
in cafeteria formation:
no vacancies.


This is the place
where enchantment with the stars
ends, and we
must begin:

in this sallow
hall, school of eroding
Edwardian brick, asbestos resting
three feet thick
in the walls,
the city’s best and brightest swimming
upstream to arrive


This is the place

where the stars in my eyes
are gouged out

where I begin to doubt
the best in me,

where the smell of the threat and Lysol
teaches me hate,

drowns me in waves.

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Susannah Lior lives in Montreal, where, in addition to writing, she sews, pets stray cats, and studies law.

  1. Roberta Burnett
    September 21, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    Tight writing that produces tension in the midst of lyrical language. Quite an accomplishment, this poem. Thank you.

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