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by Atlas Harris (United States)

May 2023

Write the World Review

Audio: “Legacy,” read by Eliza Fichter

My mother and I
dug a thousand boxes
of memories from her closet.
Gifts, letters, cards.
Mountains of things she kept,
held close,
and never let go of.
Paper covered the floor.
Bones sat on shelves with the dust.
Jewelry lay out on bedsheets,
the faces of spirits reflecting in the cut of gemstones.
Among them:
Every letter sent to and from her grandma.
The plane ticket to Hawaii
that her grandfather bought her after she graduated.
Programs from both of their funerals.
Letters upon letters from her sister
before either of them had kids,
and before the relationship went sour.
All the congratulations
from when I was born,
stacked higher than the high-rise
where my parents lived in New York
before they settled to have me and my brother.
I never realized I was born into a family of writers
until I saw all those memories.
The ocean had erupted from the closet doors
spreading a shore of parchment sand
and little origami crabs that give you tiny paper-cuts.

I always knew my mother was a writer.
She hails it as her best skill.
Business emails,
but I had never read
something of hers so...
Like finding the desolate remains of a fire in a snowstorm.
Nowadays I visit our family more than she does;
the last of those letters
was written over a decade ago.
She kept all of those memories
for so long.
What does it say that she's getting rid of them now?

In the abyss of aged paper,
I found a letter from my father to my mother,
when they found out she was pregnant with me.
And I read it ten times over,
almost unbelievingly.
It held a love I had not witnessed from him, and promises he would not keep.
Alongside it, a poem he had written
after moving into my childhood home.
Worded eloquently,
and laced with adoration.
A man so excited to be a father
his words reached out from the paper
to cradle my face and kiss my forehead
while I grimaced,
the victim of dramatic irony.
A man who is now a stranger to me.

I never knew he wrote.

Two letters and a poem
rot in a box
deep in my closet.
I stand above a freshly carved out grave,
with a promise to one day fill it.
(And to never lose my heart.)

Atlas Harris, age 17, is a writer, actor and artist from Detroit, Michigan. They edit and write for their school paper and are president of their school’s GSA.

#Family         #Memory

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3/9/24, 12:43 AM

This was absolutely a good read! 😃

Ushing Mya

11/24/23, 4:42 PM

I'm amazed by your deep perception towards little things of life! Keep glowing dear Taieba.

Fatima Ismail

10/4/23, 10:28 AM

I'll like to see more of your writing

Fatima Ismail

10/4/23, 10:26 AM

Gsk I love it!

dont care

10/3/23, 7:58 PM

womp womp


9/29/23, 2:03 AM


9/29/23, 2:03 AM

Wow..just wow. Ridiculous words I know. I just stumbled across your poem as this is my first time on the website and I landed this masterpiece. As an immigrant myself, I could relate to several aspects of this. Your use of imagery, symbolism, and allusion is outstanding


9/17/23, 8:43 AM

Powerful. Spreading the truth some don't think about, some don't have to worry about. A great and strong piece.

9/16/23, 2:41 AM

9/16/23, 2:41 AM

9/16/23, 2:41 AM

Aisha Yaakub

8/25/23, 10:35 PM

Excellent and amazing

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