Lila Coen: “Firefly”


I am eleven years old
And where do the leaves go
After they fall
I looked it up and found
They are recycled into
Toilet paper and
Food for the hungry and
Empty graves
I am looking at a sky of
Souls and restless
Pressure increases in my mind like
Clouds are expanding and there’s no room left
For me

Oxytocin explodes inside my—
As i look at him and he
Into my transparent body I think
I am made of glass i am
Please don’t break me I whisper as he
Walks away and leaves
The pieces scattered on the
Stone covered floor
Pressure increases in my mind like
Clouds are expanding and there’s no room left
For me

I am watching a firefly buzz when I realize
The sound is coming from the air conditioner
Is this what it feels like to
Dream while I’m still
I want to stand on the roof of this house and
Jump because
I can fly or
I am eleven years old
And I am immortal
Pressure increases in my mind like
Clouds are expanding and there’s no room left
For me

I walk into my mother’s room every night
Because I want to know if she’s still breathing
I see her body expand and
Collapse under the covers and I know
The world stopped spinning because
It’s sleeping
Pressure increases in my mind like
Clouds are expanding and there’s no room left
For me


I had a dream that I listened to this song in his
Arms as his fingerprints scarred my
Scalp I scrape my head until its inflamed and red
But I can’t get his touch out and I want to
Grow hair on my head but nothing living would
Want to be buried there who is the person who
Stands in place of your sanity I thought he
Was someone else but when the veins
On the back of my wrists collided with his
Palms as he grasped them I knew it wasn’t
The same blue eyes that followed
Pebbles skipping across the ocean I only
Threw four but they keep on going and I’m
Waiting for them to travel the entire Atlantic and
Come back I will never leave this blue house I am
Standing in I have been waiting twelve months but
He will follow the pebbles and I need to know if
He is still running

The blond hairs on my legs stand up only I can see them
You once ran your palms from my calves to my thighs
Because you didn’t believe there was hair
That was the first time I used a sponge to scrape the dirt that
Clumped in your nail beds; it bled when I scratched it off
My legs the ones that broke when I ran from the
Ghosts under my bed into your bedroom
I was five and had a nightmare that
There were mannequins in the closet you held me in
Your arms and I didn’t remember why I was
Crying I wanted to leave your room
Was too hot I couldn’t get out of your

I have a stuffed bear in my bedroom that I won’t
Touch but it watches me sleep and I swear it has your
Eyes it was made to remind me of you even though
I’m here so I don’t have to see you anymore I
Ran out of money spent too much on
Soap I can’t afford a sponge so I use the nails I picked
Off my hand I like to pick my nails so I have an excuse to
Leave during family dinners and walk into a
Bathroom so I can turn off the lights and
Scream out of my lungs the ones that reek
You said my breath smells bad it always does
It’s my lungs that choke the air; it’s not my
Teeth that rot everywhere in my mouth or
The tongue that I glued to the sides of my stomach
I want to run my fingers along the
Carpet and laugh I miss the thought of
Running I just can’t move my body the one that keeps
Breaking down when i forget to feed it I don’t
Want to feed it but sometimes I do because I don’t
Want to fall into the hole next to that stone with my
Name on it and “beloved daughter, friend and body”
Words that make me glass shattered on stone pavement but at least you
Remember me.


This is a series of writing to come from the amazing teen writers who were part of CSSSA (California State Summer School for the Arts)2023. For most, these will be their first publications. 

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