Cecilia Truong was a student in a WITS residency at Madison High School and was published in The Seeds to Plant the Future, the Writers in the Schools 2019-2020 student anthology. WITS writer Mark Pomeroy explained which prompts inspired Cecilia’s poem in his class:
“The seeds of Cecilia’s poem began with a class reading of Neruda’s earthy, wild poem ‘Walking Around.’ We talked about letting part of our mind go, when sitting with a poem. Letting thoughts loosen a bit. Later that session I asked the students to write a first draft of an Enemy Poem. This is a letter poem. I asked the kids to try to step out of themselves for a few minutes and also be curious about this other person or idea or thing, to discover what they might have in common with them. They had to write the poem in two parts: ‘In stanza one, write to the stranger or enemy. In stanza two, write a letter back to yourself in the voice of that other person or thing. And if you want to alter or even toss this structure in the end, go ahead. See where the flow takes you.’ That’s how her poem began. At the end of class, we read William Stafford’s “For the Unknown Enemy.”
by Cecilia Truong
To my enemy who comes during fall,
Who evolves in the winter,
And lingers around in the spring,
You are not a breeze that blows gently across the sky,
Not a puff of air that blows out the candles on a birthday cake,
But the wind that comes anytime,
You live your life flowing in thin air
Blowing leaves away
And letting dandelions fly.
You play in the sun,
You play in the rain,
You come so very often blowing my bangs away.
My hair you blow,
Tangling strand by strand,
Visually looking like a bird’s nest in the end.
My ears you make become invisible,
My nose becomes red, icy cold.
Why can’t you just come as a breeze?
Blowing gently across my face,
Swiftly passing by.
To a girl who’s always walking by,
A girl who walks outside.
It is I who makes leaves fly.
It is I who paints your fantasy sky.
Of magical dandelions swiftly swinging,
A moving cloud flying daintily across the sky
Or hair beautifully flowing.
I bring a refreshing breeze to a hot sunny day,
Like eating ice cream in a desert.
If you still don’t find me pleasing,
Why not just stay inside.