Dear Mr. Selznick (Kaleidoscope)

A poem in the form of a letter to Brian Selznick, the author of Kaleidoscope, and how the book describes the grief and loneliness I felt over the past few years.

By Carmel C. from New Tech High at Coppell in Texas

Dear Mr. Selznick

Dear Mr. Selznick,

I read your new book on a Thursday

When the air was tense

With the wait for the end of May.

When I opened the book,

The words greeted me awkwardly

Because I had not read in two years.

Two years of staring at half faces

Hidden behind cloth and warnings

And looking past strangers’ gazes.

Two years of feeling unknown

Of nights waiting for a dull morning

Always dreaming of birds never flown.

I had not read in two years

But the words embraced me all the same,

Like I deserved it,

Like I deserved to be reassured.

Dear Mr. Selznick,

I read the first page

And there was a rush of relief.

“It’s not just me,” I thought, 

Who feels like they are about to burst

into an explosion of stories and sounds and smiles,

A kaleidoscope spilled onto the floor.

Picked out from the mess of memories is a vile thing

Dull, gray, and seething,

Bundled with tape and string.

It is my grief in all its ugly, sad glory,

And this book placed it in my hand without warning.

Dear Mr. Selznick,

The James I know

Was my aunt.

She was the second mother I had

And the first mother I lost.

She would’ve loved your book

And would’ve criticized it the way only old aunts can.

She would’ve said “It’s too confusing”, “

And I would’ve laughed and explained the book badly.

But I lost her, so I know how to describe

That feeling of missing something too madly.

Dear Mr. Selznick,

I don’t know why you wrote this book,

And you don’t know why I wrote this poem,

But all 7 billion of us know of the days in a familiar room,

That slowly rotted into a familiar purgatory.

Simply waiting in the gloom,

Simply breathing in the stale air and rubbing alcohol.

The book is a dream

Filled with grand butterflies and conniving dragons

Towering stone castles and squat red apples,

And the world feels like a kaleidoscope

Fractured pieces of home and love

Twisted by distances and coughs and death

Arranged by an unsteady hand

Who is unsure

if they’re crafting their magnum opus

Or a beautiful nightmare.

(Maybe they’re the same thing.)

Dear Mr. Selznick,

Your book ruined me,

And put me back together again,

So I don’t know

Whether to be thankful or be angry,

Because your book forced me to stare

Into the eyes of my mind as it said

Look at me.

Look at what you’ve become.

Look at what you were. 

Are you ashamed?

Are you proud?

I don’t know,

I don’t know.

If I broke myself open

I would see a kaleidoscope of anger and confusion and hope

The glass shards would be sharp and cold

With teenage rebellion

And exhausted complacency.

The colorful gems would gleam with ambition,

The shapes would be bizarre and wild,

Blazing with the future’s brightness.

Beneath it all,

I would see a heavy stone

Sanded smooth by time,

Yet weighed by all the memories.

In the end, I think that’s what grief is-

you could cover it all up,

all your sorrow and despair,

with everything you have now,

but it still sits there,

as unrelenting as back then.

Dear Mr. Selznick,

I understood few of your chapters,

But I understood every feeling.

Thank you,

for putting what is undescribable

Into words that say so much.

Your book deserves an award.

It reminds us 

of the long-forgotten pain we have ignored. 

Sincerely,

Carmel C.

More responses from New Tech High at Coppell

Surprise Me

More responses about "we are not free" and "welcome"

Surprise Me

This youth publishing site for the Young Adult Literature finalists of the Commonwealth Club's California Book Awards is part of the National Writing Project’s Writing Our Future initiative and created in partnership with The Commonwealth Book Club's Creating Citizens initiative.

Writing Our Future projects are designed by educators for educators and the young people they work with. Intended for use in schools, libraries, and other educational settings. All projects are COPPA compliant and educator-managed. NWP is committed to supporting young people’s writing and civic participation by providing a safe and supportive environment for youth writing, media creation, sharing, and publishing.