2 poems

by Stewart Lindstrom

Nova Classical Academy


A tall white chimney
Stood over Lake Superior,
In the dark of night, shining.

I read the sign beside it:
Years ago, a man in his youth
Had built a future there
Only to watch it burn to the ground.

Have you ever seen a man burn to the ground?
It's a terrifying thing to witness,
Stooped over the sepia hospital bed,
Face to face with his mother of 87 years,
I watched his skin ignite
And his flesh burn away,
Till all that was left was his naked spine,
In the dark of night shining.

Why did the house burn to the ground?
A telegram thrown like a torch in the mail:
The man lit fire to his future with contempt,
And the past burned sepia against the sun.

As we left the hospital
The sun was setting on an era,
Igniting men like torches left to burn,
Till the moment dissolves into photograph
And we freeze:
In the dark of the past, shining.

Because when the black eyes of my grandmother
Met the eyes of my father for the very last time,
I thought I saw her smile,
A flicker of defiance against time and death
And all that they take from us.
She too was burned down to a single white line,
Alone in all the universe, but defiant still,
In the dark of death, smiling.


In nursing homes,
I swear someone drowns all the clocks in molasses.
And after watching my grandma try to eat, I wonder
If they must drown the people too.

The final time I saw her,
A thunderstorm was raging outside,
And memories poured like hail
Over the coffin of my grandmother's mind.

And the elderly were gathered around the television
Waiting for the signal to come back,
Just to watch the Twins lose again.

And my family was gathered around my grandma,
Waiting for the signal to come back,
Just to watch her die in the end.

Her head looked like a dandelion God blew on.
To be honest, I ran from that nursing home.
To be honest, I almost wished she would die.
And I hate myself,
That I let her fall into the abyss alone.

That is how we all enter the abyss.
Clutching nothing,
Not even skin,
Eyes glazed over and cold.
And in tar that thick, no one can hear you scream.

My little brother had to watch her die,
Watch her gasp for air and then fade.
He was only twelve.

But even when she couldn't speak,
Even when she had nothing to hold onto,
She clutched her Bible.
And I understood, when I saw it in her hand at the end,
That she didn't know who I was,
Didn't have anything left to call her own,
But one thing she did know:
The only thing we take out of this world
Is the thing we take in as well:

The love of a God
Who provides us with infinite hope
When the abyss gazes back
Glazed over and cold,
The love of a God
Who knows you better than you know yourself,
Who hears you when you scream,
Who forgives you for never saying goodbye.



Stewart Lindstrom

is a high school senior from St. Paul. In addition to writing poetry, he enjoys jogging by the Mississippi, playing the trumpet, studying global politics, and playing tabletop games with his fantastic friends.