Thunder on Christmas Day 1940
A six-year-old voice called out to me.
She pulled at my linen blouse.
Patting her head, I said, “It will be alright.”
The crashing noise: firing, bombing, firing.
I grabbed her arm and held it so very tightly.
The building was shaking,
Coming lose from its foundation,
With the constant thundering outside.
I could feel her trembling just I had
When the Germans came for us.
I squeezed her hand.
It was my hand,
Held taut by my mother.
I pulled on her dress sleeve.
She held my head close to her chest
And stroked my fine golden hair and whispered,
“Natála, it will be alright.”
I walked the cold river streets
With the castle above me;
Everyone knows it can be seen
From anywhere in the city.
I could hear the knocking of my shoe soles
Against the stone streets.
But there were also footsteps in the distance
That were not my own. I could hear them.
The stories, the rumours, the voices.
They told me things. I listened. Can you hear them?
How the Royal Mile was not blessed with royal blood.
How the modern parliament building should not have been erected
Surrounded by the old, worn, tired, dirty buildings of days gone by.
How people, diseased and desolate, strived for a pound
In the famous sewers beneath the city. You could taste the air, thick with blood and terror.
How the princes did not live on Princes’ Street. Their silken robes never matched
That of the street. How Sybil, on the corner, never saw her work
On display at the gallery in London.
Dorian still goes up to her attic to stare and remember.
We almost had prodigy. Too bad the sewer stench
Snaked through the streets. We too can have disease devour our artists.
I don’t think I can say the rest. They won’t. Will you ask them?
Soon the castle passes,
Engulfed by the quintessential heavy fog.
And too the voices start to fade. Will you ask them to come back?
All that remains is the hard sound of
My heel against the ground.
Stories will only remain in my memory
Forever for me to tell
As I walk the cold river streets.
Talking. Just talking.
We had spoken several times before,
This was a favour.
Still, I hardly knew her.
She had corrected me before.
I had questioned her before.
And we exchanged smiles.
There had been nothing else.
Yet as I spoke,
She leaned in to wipe my dirty brow
With the gentle tips of her fingers.
All I could muster was “Sorry.”
But it was warm, full of care,
A stroke only a mother could give.
Just an acquaintance
Yet such a simple stroke,
A mother’s caress,
Seemed to bind us as friends forever…
A Princeton native, Sophia Latorre-Zengierski is a junior at West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South, where is she a senior staff writer on the school’s newspaper, The Pirate’s Eye. Since the ninth grade, she has actively participated in student poetry competitions and has had poems published in student anthologies including Creative Communications’ A Celebration of Young Poets and Villa Victoria Academy’s Inscape. Her article An Evening with Harry, Carrie and Garp was published on harrypotterfanzone.com in August 2006. She has also written a short story, Lilac and Gold for a charity organization called A Leg to Stand On. As a language enthusiast, she writes in both English and French.