Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry: Gold Stars

Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine Poet Laureate

Gold stars are normally awarded for good behavior, but not always. This week’s poem by Rachel Flynn of Gorham explains.

Gold Stars by Rachel Contreni Flynn

It was forbidden to touch
the Hummels in my aunt’s pretty house,
arranged just so and shut
in the glass cabinet, pigeon-toed,
rosy-faced, holding kittens or balloons,
their porcelain bellies bulging
under pinafores and overalls…
and it was wrong to kiss
the high-school janitor after track practice
against the concrete wall
in the band room vestibule
where a fake velvet blanket draped
the old upright piano,
and a long row of trombones tilted
in their shiny black cases…
but these
were the gold stars I gave myself
when I thought no one was watching
and nothing would get broken,
and I was brilliant: easing
the little brass latches
and reaching in.

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2005 Rachel Contreni Flynn. Reprinted from Ice, Mouth, Song, Tupelo Press, 2005, by permission of Rachel Contreni Flynn. Questions about submitting to Take Heart may be directed to Gibson Fay-LeBlanc, Special Consultant to the Maine Poet Laureate, at mainepoetlaureate@gmail.com or 207-228-8263. Take Heart: Poems from Maine, an anthology collecting the first two years of this column, is now available from Down East Books.