2001 Undergraduate Poetry Winner


Christina Herbic

Tough Wishes

— For My Brother

He collects the pennies he finds on 57th Street.
They never splash into wishing
wells or twinkle like hope at the bottom
of fountains because there’s a condition if you
toss them there.
You have to desire something.
He has no real expression per se because “smiles warm,”
“tears hurt” and “words can cut.”
Understand that
his heart is encased in cloudy glass, if it beats too hard or feels anything at all
it just may
shatter, but he may never feel
this piercing.
He looks at his worn out loafers to avoid
stares that might crack him.
And so when I do see him, I speak calmly
like I practiced.
He sits on our weathered wood floor right
in front of me staring
at his penny jar.
I wonder if he even hears me and so I talk louder, words from deep in my
rise up out of my throat, my face contorts and
I realize that now
I’m yelling
yell BACK, do SOMEthing
Sometimes I want to pull him close, like my father
does, make him inhale
my fiery breath on his face, feel SOMEthing.
Instead he holds his dusty jar of copper
his only wish
to climb inside of.



About the Prize Winner:

Christina Herbic is currently a senior in English at Kansas State University. Her poem, “Tough Wishes,” was selected as the winner of this year’s Touchstone undergraduate poetry contest.

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