2023 Winner

The Colors of Life

I’ve cut off a chicken’s head

and afterward covered it with a bowl

to prevent blood spatter

and the chicken from moving around


I was six when I was kidnapped

Stuck in a small shack in Ethiopia,

Where I didn’t cry tears

but cried out for help

As two grown men held me captive, seeking money


I’ve watched a chicken bring life into this world

On my grandma’s bed, cluttered and twirling

With bottles of perfume and bags,

Cats, a dog, chickens, and even bunnies

They would curl up and rest the day away,

In a bed filled with love and life’s sigh.


I’ve seen my grandma kill a roach with her bare hands

Not showcasing a bit of fear

It’s a daily thing to do.

I’ve seen my grandma’s cat electrocuted,

flies swarmed it for weeks


I’ve watched cows and sheep slaughtered

I’ve danced in the rain and run around

I’ve hopped on different rocks to avoid

having my clean shoes get dirty

I’ve felt my hair soak and water slowly drench

my flowy dress

Glittering a gloomy day with a happy feeling

I’ve cried and laughed in the same minute


I’ve laid, motionless and still,

willed my eyes to remain closed

A stabbing pain invades my mind,

As my mom put an onion in my sock

and a clove of garlic in my ear

Hoping to ease my migraine


I was 12 when I held a squirrel my neighbors caught

and then cried because my cousins said,

What if it had rabies?

I threw away my clothes in fear of sickness

In fear of my cousins’ taunts

and catching the squirrel’s rabies


Life unfolds in unexpected ways

Experiences that have shaped my soul,

From the fear of a kidnapper’s grasp

to the joy of a rainy day,

My memories are the threads that make me whole


Mariam Rose

Parkmont School

Grade: 10


Washington, DC


Rome, Italy

Favorite Author or Book:

Harry Potter series

Dream for the Future:

Where all people can live fulfilling, happy lives

Inspirational Figure:

My mom