Letter to Myself at Sixteen by special guest Erica Goss

“Here is the question: If you could talk to your 16-year-old self, what would you say?  What advice, warnings, or encouragement would you give your younger self?”


Letter to Myself at Sixteen

I saw you on the street today

eyeliner planting little black seeds

in your tear ducts.

I picture you reading this

in one of your dreams, a jumble

of banned books, torn paper, frayed

blankets and advertising logos

where you work on your future

every rough or delicate detail

like the pieces in a child’s wooden puzzle:

shaped for incremental comprehension.

In this dream I have

your brief attention:

the past cannot be censored

and my archaeology is your future.

I want to protect you, bony girl

warn you away from what dazzles you

snatch the broken glass from your plate

but I’m just another

grown-up woman, creased brow

and a purse stuffed with middle-age

heading home to a quiet house

where paper sacks

filled with outgrown toys

wait by the door.

Letter to Myself at Sixteen by Erica Goss

Erica Goss

____________________________________________________© 2012 Erica Goss

Letter to Myself at Sixteen by Erica GossErica Goss bio:  Erica Goss is the winner of the 2011 Many Mountains Moving Poetry Contest. Her chapbook, Wild Place, was published in 2012 by Finishing Line Press.  Her poems, articles and reviews have appeared in many journals, most recently Connotation Press, Hotel Amerika, Pearl, Main Street Rag, Rattle, Eclectica, Blood Lotus, Café Review, Zoland Poetry, Comstock Review, Lake Effect, and Perigee.  She won the first Edwin Markham Poetry Prize in 2007, judged by California’s Poet Laureate Al Young, and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2010.  Erica is a contributing editor for Cerise Press, and writes a column on video poems for Connotation Press.  She holds an MFA from San Jose State University. Visit her website.


  1. A beautiful, elegiac, journey ~ archeology as future and the toys that wait by the door…

  2. Erica, thank you for sharing this intimate and engaging poem. “I’m just another grown-up woman, creased brow and a purse stuffed with middle-age” Simply beautiful.

  3. This prompt was harder than I thought it would be. In the end, I wanted her to know that I missed her and the kid I used to be, warts and all. I hoped for a dialog between us.

  4. Wow, I really loved this. I liked this line in particular: “a purse stuffed with middle-age/
    heading home to a quiet house”

    Thanks so much for sharing this. I love the acceptance here.

  5. Kelly Cressio-Moeller says:

    Beautiful, Erica. Love the imagery and sentiment – “black seeds/ in your tears ducts” wow.

  6. Renée Schell says:

    Beautiful poem. I love the images. I think the sense of wanting to protect one’s younger self is very powerful and forgiving. Could make you cry.

  7. Parthenia Hicks says:

    A masterful poem, Erica. Such powerful, evocative imagery. Heart-stopping. I, too, love the “purse stuffed with middle age.” Thank you.

  8. A sad but beautiful poem. It clearly depicts how we feel–as we grow older, we’re constantly remembering our younger days. Something poignant…the smell continues to linger when the petals have long fallen to the ground…

  9. I am also riveted by your poem and I recognise the teenage girls we see everywhere in it. The challenge would be for me to write one to myself as a sixteen year old boy. I will contemplate this. Meanwhile you might be interested in my poem “Make Way For the Boys” on my site! By the way I agree about the fantastic imagery – you blend skill with personal emotion so well. I agree about all those mentioned .. and others! What’s more your poem has the spirit of Compassion..


  1. […] with us. I know that your father would be proud of you, no matter what. Also, please check out this poem she wrote in response to a prompt about what she would tell her 16-year-old […]

Speak Your Mind


two × 3 =