Told Only in Whispers

First Place Poetry

Ekjyot Singh is a second-year BBA student at Wilfrid Laurier University, pushing for a finance major and minors in economics and creative writing. He became interested in writing poetry at the end of high school. He is trying to get into short story and nonfiction writing as well. His work revolves around the dark and depressing.

Hop on to this train of thoughts,
Departing on a ride to the dream valley.
The dark tunnel shadows plenty of slots,
A front-row seat to the flashbacks on the rally.

The scars won’t let the truth spit out.
Waiting forever, still hung over the ghost of you.
Whisper aloud over the clouds of doubt,
Deaf to the feels that don’t feel true. 

Untold – the hearty desires, this ragged heart
Does conspire; tag along with the shadows in dark.
Emotions distance them six feet apart,
On the journey of confession, I still embark.

Silence speaks for the all so lost cause,
Need a reason to spark the star-light.
Took an oath – don’t mind the breach of laws,
Move on to a better life despite the smite.

Hazy and tripping – with a dizzy blurry vision,
Post-traumatic prior to the drama.
Giving up on you – not my decision;
A spirit that haunts after all – another trauma.

I am no preacher, rather an addict.
Stuck at rehab but need a move-on.
Drives one insane I would predict;
Obliging the orders like a mere pawn.

Feels better – the tunnel now shines bright,
Hop on again to continue through the ride.
Always the shining shard to my soul out of sight,
As an aura pulls me in to be my new guide.

The journey comes to a screeching halt,
Time to pause and introspect at the moment.
No stretches, no more rubbing wounds with salt;
It’s way overdue to be rid of this daily torment.  

Can I whisper in your ear if you lean forward?
Share a secret or two not to feel alone anymore.
These emotions dance around to have a word,
For all the possibilities they crave to explore.

Let’s start afresh, start anew – destination still afar.
Reinstate my vows and bestow some love
Upon the broken; at the sight of a shooting star.
To tell you the truth, full of warmth are the clouds above.

The whispers don’t haunt but just bless the pair,
The shard of my heart sparkles with a gentle whoosh.
Fade in with my sleep, close the eyes and say a prayer.
Fade out with memories so dear for it’s no more an ambush.

Cherish the happy moments spent well together,
And cherish such a blessed happy-ever-after.
Whispering at that grave like a touch of a gentle feather.
Wish a happy place on both sides – oh bless us the supreme drafter!

First Place Prose

Deanna Fitzgerald is a second-year English major at Wilfrid Laurier University and is also pursuing a creative writing concentration. She mainly enjoys writing fiction and is especially enticed by the flash fiction genre. 

“Mama, it’s hard to breathe down here.”
“I know dear, but you just need to take deep, slow breaths. Just like we practiced, remember? And keep your voice down, now.”
“I can’t see down here, Mama.”
“Me neither, dear.”
“Will you tell me a story?”
“A story?”
“Yes, Mama.”
“What do you want to hear?”
“The one about the mice, Mama. Grandfather always used to tell me the one about the mice before bed.”
“Mice, mice…ah yes, I think I remember it. Are you sure you want to hear that one?
“Yes, Mama.”
“Alright then, I suppose it’s fitting. Once there was a group of mice, and they all lived together under the steps of the schoolhouse. They were a content bunch, very content, for all they did was play outside in the day and eat cheese well into the evening. Under the steps were stacks of cheese so high they couldn’t even see over the top of them. And they always ate it all, every last bite. There was never a crumb to be found. They were very content.”
“But then the cat moved in!”
“Yes, then the cat moved into the neighbourhood. A big, fluffy cat, with thick white fur all around and a mean, toothy grin-”
“No Mama, he’s supposed to have grey fur.”
“Yes, Mama. Grandfather always said he had grey fur.”
“Alright, alright. A big, fluffy cat with grey fur moved into the neighbourhood.”
“Where do you suppose Grandfather is?”
“I don’t know, dear. They took him away on the train, the same way they took your…others in the family. I don’t know where to. If I had to guess I would say he is with God by now.”
“With God, Mama?”
“Yes, dear, with God.”
“Will I get to see him soon, Mama?”
“I pray not, dear. Now, the big, grey cat moved in and developed an immediate dislike of the mice who lived under the stairs. He thought they were dirty, lazy, greedy. Vermin, he called them. Every day he hid behind the schoolhouse and waited for the mice to come out, and then he pounced on them. He chased them all around the schoolyard, sometimes even catching them in his paws, or worse, in his mouth. Then the mice would retreat back under the steps and count to make sure they hadn’t lost anyone. They knew it was only a matter of time before they did. So they decided to stay under the steps, where the cat couldn’t reach them, to keep themselves safe.”
“It’s just like you said, Mama.”
“What did I say, dear?”
“You said we had to be quiet like mice under the floorboards.”
“Yes, I did say that. Quiet just like mice.”
“But Mama?”
“I don’t want to be the mouse. I’d rather be the cat.”
“Better a mouse than a schweinsleder, dear. So the mice decided to stay under the steps, every day, where they were safe. And it was okay, at first, because they had lots of cheese to keep them satisfied. But eventually, the cheese ran out. So now the mice had nothing left to eat, and they could not venture outside for fear of the cat, and so they were stuck. Try as they might, they could not escape the stealth of the cat. There was one mouse though, who suggested they tie a bell around the cat’s neck, to warn the mice when it was nearby. So they got themselves a bell, and they fastened it to a string, and the mice began to buzz with excitement. They all gathered around the bell and looked at each other expectantly, but nobody dared move. Then, somebody voiced the problem nobody had thought of. Who was going to be the one to tie the bell around the cat’s neck?”
“Mama, there’s voices above us-”
“Shh. I hear them. We’re going to have to be silent for a little while, okay?”

“You find anything? Check behind the wardrobe.”
“Nope, nothing.”
“You sure?”
“I just told you I don’t see anything. If there was a Juden in here we would have smelled him by now.”
“Alright, let’s check upstairs.”

“What happened to the mice?”
“I don’t know, dear. I suppose that’s up to the cat.”
“Why does the cat dislike them so, Mama?”
“I suppose he doesn’t think they can be friends, dear.”
“Do you think they can be, Mama?”
“I hope so, dear. I hope so.”

Second Place Poetry

Rachel Shave enjoys poetry and has practiced various writing styles since elementary school.  She is currently a first-year Film Studies major with German and Creative Writing minors.

Softly spoken words sail
From port to port,
Swaying on gentle
Waves of breath.
Whispers from each
Harbour of the heart
Voyage on air:
Blown by warm winds,
Invisible to the eye,
But welcomed to the ear.

Whispers of touch are no less
Than whispers of voice.

A smooth fingertip sweeping
Curled locks across a cheek;
Steady arms holding their
Dearest in Kudzu’s embrace;
Good morning lips planting a
Delicate kiss on a sleeping shoulder

They might feel timeless
Like no power could interrupt them.
But each one,
Each too soon,
Leaves a whispered imprint,
So much emptier than before.
And when those touches pass,
They become like the voiced whispers:
Secrets held close by those
Who shared them.

An arrived whisper to ears,
Or the ghost of a fleeting feeling,

Which do you prefer?

Second Place Prose

Ella Woods is a third-year student at Wilfrid Laurier University pursuing an English Major and a History Minor. You can follow her on Instagram @elle1woods

Save for the wandering westward wind, which whipped at the bows of the poplars, the night was silent. A padded winter silence, free of the signs of life, full of the reflection of strife. And in these silent nights I sat, fireside, or by the window. And as the embers danced; tranced in tranquil reflection, I warmed. But not to the prospect of the pursuing storm. For something had been stirring in the land. Something now rustled at the pines and crept from cottage to cottage, growing:
Something told only in whispers.

In the emerald days of summer, my cottage was cloistered by the lush growth of its encircling garden.

Each August, deep in the honeysuckle sweet air lay a note of revelry. For the garden would reach a full and frenzied bloom, and all creatures under the moon came to bask in its paradise. Soaking up the August sun, the animals grew drunk with warmth, and danced in unison until they fell into a deep and restful sleep; beneath the endless rocking of a star speckled cradle.

Protected by the plenty, there was no need for quarrel. Even the clever vixen left her tricks at the copper gate and fell to the spell of the garden.

And so it went, until the first smell of September bristled through the pines. And the animals dispersed back to whence they came. To learn the lessons of a long and lacking winter:
Something told only in whispers.

Now, in this bleak mid-winter, the wind whistles a tune of despair. Slow and low. Great storms rock the timber walls of the cottages, and coat them with snow.
And tomorrow it will not yield, but grow.

One must batter down the hatches! Yet, as I reach for the storm shutters, a whimper and the flash of orange stops me. A small fox, driven mad and lost by the widening gyre. Suddenly, I am pushing the window further open, not shut. In an instant, the creature has assessed this offer and chosen to enter; and there is a fox in my arm chair. A fox which licks at its cold paws, and shakes off the snow from its plump amber coat, before settling in.

Behind, I catch the shadow of them all huddled within the relative shelter of my encircling garden. All creatures under the moon.

Each squirrel or rabbit, stray cat, dog, fox or ferret in the area was gathered tentatively for warmth and safety. Without pause, they flew, as they passed through the window and into my cottage toward the heat of the hearth.

And in the many moons that have passed since that winding winter gyre, the tale has travelled on.

For by the dancing light of that well burning fire, the lessons of a long and lacking winter were
told by each guest in song.

Soft as a whimper,
Told only in whispers:
Of how the strife made strong