Poetry Festival will be held:

Saturday, April 27, 2024

2020 Winner

Anne Arundel Medical Center

Deep in the maze of sterile hallways

machines beep while nurses whisper

and Papa Joe lies still, head resting on his palm

His mind may be frail, but his hand is steadfast


He stirs

reaching over, I put his hand in mine

Veins form peaks in the delicate skin

ridged fingernails, like chipped stone

and brown splotches like spilled ink


Our fingers fit snugly


His warm grasp is tender

Drawing me close on Passover and

bringing me for long walks around the College

on worn paths by red brick halls

A haven of autumn light


His palms slip on the harsh metal bed frame


to gripping grainy wood, crisp pages, woven chairs

to splaying behind a cover and spine

to resting, aside the pondering head,

pausing, to dutifully deliver perceptions to a page


With a devoted hand,

abstract thought became sprawling script

Ponderings sculpted into meaning

The mind was a guide, a companion, a purpose

It was the study brimming with books

slowly deteriorating.

Emptied shelves in a haze of dust,

a confused toss of pages,

Maddening, incomprehensible writing

Silent decay.


Ever since,

the lonesome hand

Left adrift, alone, abandoned by sagacity

merely a pen without ink coursing through


standing by the doorway

both hands raise and extend

toward the study

venerating a resilient friendship

with open palms

before the yellow lights dim to black

and he firmly shuts the door


I clutch his hand tighter in mine

a sorry substitute, I think to myself

but he looks up at me, benevolent

I kiss him gently on the forehead

and turn away as the yellow lights dim to black


Alexa Cohen

Maret School

Grade: 11


Washington, DC


Washington, DC

Favorite Author or Book:

Billy Collins

Dream for the Future:

I hope that in the future I am continuing to learn and be curious. Maybe I’ll be a writer or a historian. I hope I continue to read and volunteer often. For the world, all I can hope is for continued progress toward a more harmonious and equitable society.

Inspirational Figure:

My mom inspires me most because she is fearless, hardworking and accomplished, and simultaneously incredibly kind, caring, and moral. I hope to strike that balance as I grow older. She reminds me always to maintain focus on the most fulfilling and important aspects of life.