Gold Stars 

By Rachel Contreni Flynn 

It was forbidden to touch

the Hummels in my aunt’s pretty house,

arranged just so and shut

in the glass cabinet, pigeon-toed,


rosy-faced, holding kittens or balloons,

their porcelain bellies bulging

under pinafores and overalls … 

and it was wrong to kiss

the high-school janitor after track practice

against the concrete wall


in the band room vestibule

where a fake velvet blanket draped

the old upright piano,

and a long row of trombones tilted

in their shiny black cases … 

but these


were the gold stars I gave myself

when I thought no one was watching

and nothing would get broken,

and I was brilliant: easing 

the little brass latches

and reaching in. 


Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2005 Rachel Contreni Flynn. Reprinted from “Ice, Mouth, Song,” Tupelo Press, 2005, by permission of Rachel Contreni Flynn. Questions about submitting to Take Heart may be directed to Gibson Fay-LeBlanc, special consultant to the Maine Poet Laureate, at [email protected] or 228-8263. “Take Heart: Poems from Maine,” an anthology collecting the first two years of this column, is now available from Down East Books.

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