The Playground, The Anatomy of a Good Cry

By Shelby Dodd

Image courtesy of clvrmnky (

Image courtesy of clvrmnky (

The Playground

It’s where we first learn what freedom tastes like
and how the cold, dense sandbox can bury
your legs and corduroy dress,

And how the grass stains marring skinny knees
are the markers of a well-fought battle
against the amber mulch and gravity.

Where we learn the unspoken protocol,
the intuitive impulse of chasing—
and of being chased.

And the way jackets feel like fluttering capes
and how easily we memorize the inside grooves
of the rubbery tire swings.

It’s here that we learn how smooth the sun
is as we gulp it down, as we’re growing plump
in the afternoon’s rolling warmth,

And how soft it falls on our faces when we rest
a moment under the scattered shade of trees,
studying the swirling motes of pollen.

Here, we’ll learn the limits of the swings,
and how we’ll always close our eyes,
hoping to fly off.

Image courtesy of Amy Sept (

Image courtesy of Amy Sept (




The Anatomy of a Good Cry

Somewhere between my chest and my mouth
the motion stops, and all I feel is stuck.
Peach-flushed cheeks fill with tension
as they grow dark and deep to a bottomless frown.
The beginning of a headache burrows behind my eyes
and my stomach knots in small, sad turns.
Dim light grows dimmer yet, stretching
through the cloudy water of my eyes, lengthening
into supposed sunbeams. They taint
the walls of my room, touching
my contorted face.  Stinging and slow,
these quivering floods billow over. They run—
down my cheeks, ears, nose, neck, chin.
These tears run parallel tracks, cold and even— mirrored
and foreign. Nesting in my matted hair and sticking
to the gentle curves of my face, only now discovered
by their salty voyage.

shelby's museum picShelby Dodd started writing poetry in elementary school, later discovering its power to convey emotion and beauty in eighth grade. Her faith, Robert Frost, Simon and Garfunkel, and the night sky are some of her favorite inspirations for her writing. She aspires to one day work with young children with learning disabilities, while continuing to write poetry. She is 17 and a senior in high school.

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2 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Sandy and Clell Conner says:

    We have known Shelby since she was born. She has always amazed us with her unending endeavors and outstanding accomplishments. She has been a writer since she was very young. We are thrilled at this publishing of her poetry and very nice illustrations, knowing that so many will be touched by it.
    Shelby we love you are are so very, very proud of you.

  2. Such great imagery and emotion and memory.

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