by Noah Rosenberg, SOM ’12
First Prize 2009 Gerald F. Berlin Creative Writing Award
The Red Door
In front of which,
Stands a morbidly obese woman.
A cigarette in one hand
And a light beer in the other.
She takes a swig then a drag,
And stares out into the empty street,
Its surface pitted with civic neglect.
From around the side of the housing project apartment,
A little girl in a pink, fleece jumper bounds up.
Her nappy hair,
Pulled into two loose pigtails,
Bobs up and down,
A conduit for her sweet enthusiasm.
The girl comes to rest in front of the woman,
Who blows smoke into the girl’s face,
As they exchange words.
The woman opens the bright red door,
The only one like it in the projects,
And motions for the little girl to come in.
The girl smiles and moves to enter the apartment,
But the woman blocks the doorway with her stomach,
Producing a mocking belly laugh.
The little girl clasps her hands behind her back
And occasionally looks down at the ground,
As if she is asking for something,
Though she knows the answer.
The woman throws her cigarette on the ground,
Grinding out its yellow spark with her heel.