ode to breakfast
in a world in which the fruit is
sweeter, i am
sitting at the high chair
back when i could drink orange juice
and a waiter takes my
picture. my mom, before her hair began
to grey, her smile
warmer than two cups of coffee,
i think my first
language i spoke was
pancake of the day.
babbling blueberry nouns
and stacks of silver dollar verbs,
syrup spilling from my mouth
i am posted
in your windows, cemented
in your floors, affixed
to your wooden backsplash.
sleeping in the yolk of an eggs
benedict and hiding
in the stuffed french toast.
i wish i had one
more day with you, to take
my friends to your awning,
your awkward gated door,
to see myself in the rust.
for feeding me.
p.s i never thought there was enough cheese in your omelettes, but i loved you too much to tell you that.
Attending Jones College Prep, Henry F. is a junior in high school with passions for writing, activism, and science. From early childhood, Henry has been involved in various art forms and has pursued poetry from the third grade onwards. His quarantine consists of baking, anxiety, college preparations, and late-night writing sessions.
What made you write your poem, and how does it relate to your experiences during the pandemic?
This poem is largely inspired by a restaurant in my neighborhood that recently closed due to the pandemic. I spent so much of my childhood in that restaurant, and unfortunately, that source of joy and memories is gone. While I spend every week with my family, I take the good and the bad, and I try to remember my neighborhood before this year.
What do you want people to know about what you’ve endured this year?
While I believe many people are already, I believe everyone should be aware of how this year is affecting youth. For a majority of youth I have talked to, this year, while challenging, has mobilized us to fight against the many systems working against us. We’ve endured so much, and this year, for many of us, changed our lives.
Between COVID-19, police brutality protests, job loss, parents and students working from home, there’s been a lot happening in 2020. Can you share a little bit about how your life has changed or been directly affected?
Throughout 2020, I have felt heightened anxiety, fury towards the government I live under, and a feeling of overwhelming, existential numbness. The headlines I read don’t feel real anymore. While it’s difficult for me to keep hope, I’m always going to fight for what is right.
How has writing helped you this year?
Writing has really helped me cope with the anxiety I have been experiencing over the state of the world. Attempting to write about the chaos of my surroundings helps me to organize my thoughts and avoid letting my feelings collect.
What do you hope a post-COVID world will look like?
I hope a post-COVID world will be a more conscious and empathic society ready to dismantle the many broken systems that we have created.