Love Letters to the Seasons From a Statue and a Student
By Sienna Lipton & Michele Kirichanskaya
As the title says, “Love Letters to the Seasons From a Statue and a Student” is an ode to the elements from two very different pairs of eyes.
In the fall, I watch families heading to the playgrounds, friends shouting and laughing together, everyone trying to soak up a last bit of warmth before the cold sets in. Knitted mittens and woven scarves are abandoned, discarded on benches, hidden under trees, forgotten as people hurry to escape a sudden storm.
The school semester just started, so I’m trying to savor my last window of freedom while it lasts. Kids shriek with laughter as they play on yellow-green grass, red cheeks framing their gap-toothed smiles. I burrow into my plush scarf, grateful not to be the person who left theirs behind on one of the wooden benches lining the path. The trees glimmer overhead in ruby, gold, and amber, a last bit of life before the season dies.
During the winter, ice covers my arms and head, like the jackets and hats the masses wear to enjoy the first fall of snow. It is usually still and quiet, except for the coldest days when the children come in waves, dragging their sleds to enjoy the steepest slopes of the park. I spend more and more time in the quiet company of the soft moon. Lights are strung across the trees, even the blistering winds not enough to discourage the crowds who arrive every year. I can never quite tell what they are doing.
Christmas in New York. The off-key carolers are giving me a headache, but I have to admire their enthusiasm. It’s easy to get jaded in this exhausted city, especially this time of year when gray slush covers the ground after all the pretty white snow melts away and it feels like the sun forgets your name. But watching the kids sledding downhill, the lovebirds dragging their terrified partners around Wollman Rink, the park get bathed in a shower of silvery feathers, you have to beam, taking the holiday cheer where you can.
In the spring, the animals are first to return, tentatively braving the rainy days. The humans come after, eager to rush into the seasons, bearing more and more skin. A young woman wanders around, her hand in that of another young woman. It must be love. Young infatuation is everywhere. I miss the feeling. Soon everyone walks through the park’s paths together. I try to imagine what it’s like to be truly warm, in the company of others, in the company of the sun.
As my girlfriend slides her hand into mine, I try not to blush like the secret sappy mess I am. When you spend so long watching other people—straight people—fall in love spring after spring, the sweet air feels like it wasn’t meant for you to breath in. The sun is out, and so are her freckles, a million stars painting her brown cheeks. For a second I’m so jealous of them, so close to her skin, when she looks at me, her smile the sun, pulling me in for a kiss that tastes of warmth and the salty pretzel we just shared.
In the summer, the sun glints off my polished skin. I cannot smell the sweet breeze, but the air breathes alive with the joy of a hundred children, finally free from the confines of the classroom. Sticky fingers on sticky hands leave their ice cream residue on my metallic body, evidence that I have become the next victim of a hoard of climbing bodies. Gaggles of families and friends, slightly less burdened by their usual workload, enjoy each others’ company, as well as the company of the grass and the trees. The young woman is back, this time alone. She sits down, leaning against me, and begins to read. I know I cannot move but I try to convey extra warmth in my frozen expression, hoping to communicate my joy at her presence.
While the rest of the city boils like the smelly armpit of a subway rider, the breeze coming through the bright green trees makes you forget all that, can make you imagine you’re in an entirely different world. A different time already gone by, where people spoke a different way and wore strange clothes. Like the metal guy I’m leaning on, though he’s kind of quiet, so I have no idea what he would sound like. The park is filled with statues of old dead white men, some who deserve the commemoration more than others. I look up at his face, at the smile that rests on it, bronzed for eternity. Maybe it’s just me, or maybe it’s the summer sun warming his frozen expression, but I can sort of imagine that maybe, just maybe the sweet expression he has on his face is meant for me. I don’t know whose statue I’m leaning on, but his smile as he looks down on me is nice, so I hope that he was the type to deserve one.
This prose poem was inspired by the writing prompt, “You’re a statue in a city park. Describe what you see in each of the four seasons,” from the book 642 Tiny Things to Write About, written by the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto. From the original exercise, the poem expanded to feature both the mentee and the mentor’s voices, both like the poem features two very different characters. The portions in italics were written by Sienna Lipton, while the portions in regular print were written by Michele Kirichanskaya.
Sienna Lipton is a high school sophomore in Bronx, NY. She is a diabetic with a strong love for candy. Sienna enjoys reading, drawing, listening to music and baking.
Michele Kirichanskaya is a graduate of Hunter College and an MFA candidate in Writing for Children and Young Adults at The New School. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Michele Kirichanskaya identifies as an intersectional feminist and multi-spectrum geek, and spends her time reading, watching cartoons and striving to become a better writer.