When I was told that for two years
you squeezed your eyelids shut
each time a sneeze scuttled upwards
and threatened your sinuses,
for fear of them bursting from their sockets,
I hid my smile with two hands of guilt.
I buried my bead of triumph.
That lick of power
burning like a forest fire in my lungs
as laughter bubbled in its pot
threatened to burst the lid,
and show the world how much I loved,
the idea that I had tricked you.
so unintentionally well
that even your best friend failed
in convincing you it was a lie.
We’re finally here and I’m practically bouncing off the walls with excitement. As with every other year that I’ve taken part, I took one look at the prompt this morning and went “pftt, I can’t write something for that,” and walked away from it. A few hours later the little seed that it left in my brain came up with half an idea and I managed to write a poem for it.
The prompt was to write a poem based on a secret shame or a secret pleasure. This memory was actually a mixture of both. As a child I told my sister’s best friend that if she sneezed with her eyes open then her eyes would pop out, that’s why we close out eyes. It was nonsense of course but she believed me and years later my sister revealed that from that day on she’d taken to screwing her eyes shut in terror each time she sneezed for fear she’d accidentally leave them open and both her eyes would pop out.
It was one of those moments where you feel both mean and a little proud that you managed to trick someone so completely. It also made for the perfect response for this prompt.