Selections from Honors Theses in Poetry
a story by Rebecca Rothfeld ’14
a story by Rebecca Rothfeld ’14
Why are there polar bears in the Bronx?
He took his daughter to the zoo because she asked him to,
he lifted her up on his shoulders, and she squealed with excitement.
Her favorite animal was a polar bear.
They found the exhibit after an hour of searching,
it was a Tuesday,
they had the exhibit to themselves.
The door on the far side of the tundra opened,
men in uniform emerged carrying a seal
and tossed it onto the ice.
Bears lurch for their meal,
the carcass tears, tears stream down the girl’s face.
She asked her father to take her home.
I put on my school uniform:
stale blue shirt, scratchy red skirt, long gray socks,
and try not to think about
the invisible camera.
The school bus always comes for me in the same spot,
and I’m always stuck
with that seat in the last row.
At school Janie and I eat lunch together,
I don’t really learn anything,
I just hope that one day someone will take me away from this place.
But no one has come yet,
I don’t think they ever will.
I think I have some in my car,
I waited patiently for you to return.
You came back with bottles instead of cans,
I think that was supposed to impress me.
The ball hit the beer and made a splash.
I was frustrated but I was smiling.
You took me to your room,
the stairs wound and the door swung,
the music came on, we moved between rooms.
You were surprised I was so calm,
Light pours through the window:
First night a thrill,
I just hope you remember,
sassafras is my safe word.
Art splattered on the wall in concentric circles,
it seems to spell something, but she can’t quite make it out.
The wooden panels on the floor creak with each step she takes:
Walk warily—the floorboards might cave.
Autographs line the walls—some are etched, some are painted,
flea market furniture is placed awkwardly throughout the rooms.
A young body face down on a couch:
Alice checks to make sure he is still breathing.
She opens the door to the stairs and sees a neon swirl,
reminds her of the color in the world.
A constant bass resonating from each room quakes the foundation—
not quite music to her ears—
threatens the structure’s fight against gravity.
Fumes torture lungs as they gasp for air,
oxygen is better spent on marlboros.
Grime corrodes the metal sink; silver turns to sea green.
Why doesn’t the refrigerator work?
Music from below resonates weak
the life seems to have died.
The shattered window lets in cool air from outside,
Alice notices the hair sticking up on her arm,
Walks by flea market furniture, the boy has risen,
pulls at his hair but it won’t come out.
A girl in the corner ingests a pill
to release creativity.
Alice turns to the doors but it’s stuck,
so is she. Just kick it down.
Free love requires payment in full.
Wipe that grime off your hands, Alice;
no one is going to do it for you.
Creativity creates the evil as well.
Alice keeps the lyrics locked in a box under the bed
Hidden from view.
On their first night together,
He changed the shape of her flesh:
A love out of lust.
Then, face went pale: he mishandled the secret.
Alice feels small against the night
Torn photographs taped on the wall
A cigarette next to the bed.
Alice has never been to this world,
But now she knows it exists,
The others are cynics.
Exposed, the world rushes in:
Lights, sounds, and smoke.
But Alice does not know this is a borrowed world,
And now he wants it back.
So Alice must return to her old world,
If she can find it.