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Stephanie Tom

Everybody is born whole 

before they spend a lifetime 

hollowing out. A home is just 

a heart emptied of its residents.

A ghost is simply a soul

displaced from its body. 

There are two ways to

look through a mirror, and 

both you and your reflection 

are seeing the same things.

Brown eyes can still burn 

when one pair is full of life

and the other one isn't. Hands 

can still be made from marble 

when one pair is reaching 

towards warmth and the other 

is shying from the same familiarity.

Heartstrings pull taut when the 

loneliness returns, as if to fool 

itself into thinking that the heart 

hasn't become void of life. It refuses 

to listen even when everything that 

you have become has been drained 

from the spirit over the course of 

an eternity you cannot express and 

the light in your eyes has been 

dulled into a brown that fades 

into black irises and everything 

that you know and loved has left 

long ago. The remains of your ghost, 

still searching for warmth where 

it won't be found because ghosts 

only inhabit places they knew in their 

lifetimes but this body is not a home 

anymore and there are no more mirrors 

and no more hands to reach for and 

everyone that has once lived here is gone.

Fisherman's Prayer, Redux

“Dear God, be good to me. The sea is so wide,

and my boat is so small.”

-       Breton fisherman’s prayer


There are not enough stars in the sky 

to have guided me this far without knowing 

that there are shores up ahead. I have 

always known about the storms ­– this is 

not a new phenomenon. Not many things 

in life are. On days like this when the clouds 

clear only to cinch the sunset into dusk, 

I close my eyes and remind myself 

how easy it is to count my blessings.


Fun facts for ordinary prayers: 

stars are always the first things to die in 

this universe, but you’re still here. The moon 

smiles at you the same way every thirty days, 

but you can see one just as bright in the 

mirror each morning. The sun always shines 

brighter after a storm, and despite the odds, 

you’ve braved every one of them thus far. 


The sea beckons, with the call for 

adventure and the promise of a beautiful 

unknown. I don’t know much about 

navigation, but I do know that there’s 

no need to be afraid. The first rule to 

surviving is to believe you will. 

The light will always guide me home. 

If I ever go underwater, I won’t be alone. 

If I hold my breath long enough, 

I’ll start to see stars, too.

Stephanie Tom is currently studying words, people, communication, and technology at Cornell University. She has previously been recognized by the national Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, the International Torrance Legacy Creativity Awards, and the international Save the Earth Poetry Contest. She was a 2019 winner of the Poets & Writers Amy Award and is the author of Travel Log at the End of the World (Ghost City Press, 2019). When she’s not writing she dabbles in dance, martial arts, and graphic design.

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