Chapman Award

Morissa won the prestigious Chapman Award in poetry for this zuhitsu.  Her poem reflects the struggles of transitioning from middle school to high school.  


I sit in the back of Dad’s car, bopping my head to The Beatles’ Revolution and hum quietly while reading over my notes for today’s math test.


Lunch with Val, Eugene, Michelle, Kayla, Chris, and Nick, talking about our favorite movie, Forrest Gump, until Val interrupts with how nervous she is about applying to high school.  We finish lunch in silence.


Let f(x) = -2X2 + 4X + 6…That is the question that has plagued me all day.  On my math test, I made the answer positive instead of negative, the minor mistake that will cost me my A.


On this beautiful, unseasonably warm afternoon, I am glad to be outside reading my favorite Matheson stories on the wooden cutout in the giant oak by the dining room window, but worries that I may not be accepted to The Academy interrupt my leisure.


For Christmas, my friends and I exchange gifts.  Val gives me a stuffed flamingo. I put right it right next to the unicorn on the lace covered brown bench that oversees my room.


We have received your application for admission testing to The Academy for Allied Health and Biomedical Sciences. Your test will be on January 28, 2008.


In gym class, Val holds her hand as if she is in pain, but she refuses to show it to anyone, not even me, her best friend.


Val has a circular scar on her hand that looks like a burn mark.  She insists that she is just clumsy and she fell.


This kid next to me at The Academy admission testing is breathing so loudly I can’t concentrate.



I glide my paintbrush through the orange paint and onto the canvas.  I don’t know what I’m painting, but I know I need to paint.


Math class is miserable.  Not only did I get an 86 on the test that I thought I aced, but Val started crying hysterically, until Ms. Endolf sent her to the school counselor.


Michelle and Kayla are mad at Val for acting so strangely.  They refuse to speak to our friend.  I refuse to join their charade.  I know she’s acting strangely for a reason.


I come home to find my mother crying…happy tears.  She tells me that I passed my admission test with a proud ear-to-ear grin on her face. The next step in the admission process is an interview with The Academy on March 1.


I bead a few bracelets before going to sleep.  I feel guilty, like I should be studying or preparing for my interview, but I just don’t want to.


Val pulls me into the coat cubby during homeroom, the dark circles under her eyes barely visible from the faint light in the  dimly lit room.  She tells me how her father has abused her and her sisters this past year and swears me to secrecy


How can I help my best friend and her sisters? Can I help my best friend and her sisters?  Can I help my best friend?


I go to the veteran’s home where I’d been volunteering for a while and see my favorite veteran, Ray.  He tells me not to get old.


“Why do you want to go to The Academy?”  Ms. Ferris, my Academy interviewer, asks.  I stare at her blankly for a moment before responding.


When Val comes to school with more bruises, I break my promise and tell my parents.


I slowly open my report card to reveal a B in math…my first B ever.  I take a puff of my inhaler.


The old home phone rings; I assume it will be the Academy with an admission decision. “Help me, Morissa!”  Val screams into the phone.  I gesture to my mother who grabs the car keys, as we race to the door.


Spring break.  My family and I go to Hershey Park in Pennsylvania to celebrate my being one of forty students admitted to The Academy.


DYFS goes to Val’s house after her older sister tries to commit suicide by overdosing on pain pills.


Lunch is so quiet with Eugene, Michelle, Kayla, Chris, and Nick.


I got an 84 on my math test today.  I smile.


Val returns to school but sits at a different lunch table.  She has no more bruises, but her eyes are still red.


My gown flows as I march down the church aisle to receive my certificate of completion from St. John Vianney.


I stare at the screen of the my new HP computer as I scratch the back of the $15 iTunes card my grandparents gifted to me. As I begin to type in OKGO’s Here It Goes Again, as the first song I purchase, I change my mind and type in The Beatles’ Revolution.


I relax outside alternating between reading Stephen King and beading on my twirling chair as I now do every relaxing summer day.


Went to the shore.  Won a giant yellow bee stuffed animal.  I am the skeeball champion!


This is so embarrassing.  I don’t know how to open my locker.  In all my years of private school, home school, and Catholic school, I’ve never had a locker until entering The Academy.  Mrs. Bow laughs as she teaches me how to operate a locker.


Holding a brain is a lot different than I thought it would be.  It is mushier and lighter than I imagined.


“Ever see Forrest Gump?” my new friend, Ruchir, asks at lunch, as I mush the jelly on my sandwich.


I walk down the street pulling my Shi-tzu and Maltese in my wagon.  Lester almost jumps out when he sees a terrier twice his size, but I catch him just in time.  It is the scariest moment I have had in a long time.


At the veteran’s home, I see Ray and tell him how much I love The Academy.  He smiles and asks if I’d like to sing with him.


The phone rings.  It’s my new friend Shannon.  She needs help with our Biomedical Sciences homework.


I spend Columbus Day at The Carpet Maven, my parent’s carpet store.  St. John Vianney never gave days off for “made up holidays.”


Solve for x in the equation Ln(x)=8…I haven’t been able to get that problem out of my head all day.  That is the problem that earned me the Best in Class Award on my first marking period report card.


It’s Sunday.  I walk down Main Street to pick up bagels for my family.  The smiley, bright-eyed girl behind the counter at the bagel shop is Val.  She is a student at Mother Superior High School. She asks if my unicorn is being nice to my flamingo.


I look at the flamingo and unicorn on my bench.  They’re fine. I’m okay.  Everybody ‘s alright.   Everything’s good.