A Place for Elijah


In fourth grade, a boy made me a necklace; letter beads strung between beating hearts, plastic I handled like crystal.

Nervous lips and crooked teeth too young for braces whispered chalk onto sidewalks, all stretched shadows and unshackled dust.

Colorblock sky painted the backs of our eyelids. Sun on his shoulders reflected off of messy hair, thick glasses, and lightning bolt tie, dressed to the nines; frayed jeans skipped sidewalk cracks to walk on blue sky.

I found out about his suicide on Facebook.

In fifth grade, the boy in the coffin had a place in my diary, in a pencil- sketched heart the size of a supernova. Flighty use of concrete diction scrawled "forever" into the margins, but there was no inside the lines because we knew how to measure. We knew that infinity was tallied in dull crayon and stretched over too-small T-shirts; we were timekeepers.

But the boy in the photograph wore borrowed time like a tophat, tipped it elegantly over his shoulder when he rollerbladed home to weave a steel safety net to bar neglect and solitude, but he ran out of sidewalk and it became a cage. He said depression felt like shackles.

In sixth grade, the boy who should have been a musician played his violin every day. Bow and string and sidewalk chalk lifted him back to blue sky, fingers over fretboards replaced worn potholders he used to juggle scalding divorces like hot pans- he said the shackles were on fire.

In ninth grade, he escaped to art school. Mozart beckoned, treble clef bars promised to outlast steel cage and smother flame,so the boy who made me a necklace slung rollerblades and tophat over his shoulders, pocketed symphonic ambitions, and abandoned a suitcase full of scorched potholders at the terminal gate; TSA does not allow shackles. 

But, in eleventh grade, solitude cuffed musicians hands, and a pair of indentured feet hung their dance shoes from the cieling fan.

So, a photograph stands in place of the boy who made me  a nceklace; a pair of empty shackles, a headstone around my neck.

Elijah, you are frayed jeans, sidewalk cracks, and blue sky. I love your necklace.


Additional Resources

Get AI Feedback on your poem

Interested in feedback on your poem? Try our AI Feedback tool.


If You Need Support

If you ever need help or support, we trust CrisisTextline.org for people dealing with depression. Text HOME to 741741