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The Peter Pan Prize

Mary O'Keefe Brady  “Standing on the Other Side of the Bathroom Door”

Honorable Mentions:

Grace Przywara, Ruth ILG,John Blake

Standing on the Other Side of the Bathroom Door

I hear Sebastian at the sink washing

his hands, singing Happy Birthday—

twice as he’s been taught.


While his voice, off-key and unselfconscious,

bellows out the words, I picture little viruses

on candle tips being extinguished with puffs


of breath, laughing children clamoring

for the piece of cake with Spiderman

red and blue icing. I wish I had pulled out


my phone to record his seven-year-old voice—

a pandemic moment to cherish

like Polaroids from the past.

Judge’s Comment:

"Standing on the Other Side of the Bathroom Door" captures a distinct moment in our shared history that is both surprising and quintessential. Anyone living during the Covid-19 pandemic and the early days of quarantine will immediately relate to this poem and the way it deftly collapses the past with the present.

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