[editor's note:  Caroline Davidson, a student a MAST, is winner in prose poetry in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards contest.  Her entry, Musings of a Blackbird is reprinted below:]

You were the living equivalent of the feeling you get when you walk into a spiderweb.

I was straddling one life and the next, fresh from the cocoon, and you were there immediately to drag me into the sticky tendrils. So new to others, I didn't realize I was trapped until you were right there next to me, draining away my heart.

You were sick, and I wanted to help you. At the start, I thought I was helping you. I thought your constriction, the twisted tendrils of your diseased psyche that you were so intent to coil me into, was friendship. I thought shattering my own comfort to help you was correct, and that if I refused, I would be hated. So I bared my neck to allow you to drink, thinking that I was doing the right thing. I thought that this was normal, and that you would do the same for me.

You wouldn't. When I was lost in my own darkness, you took my torch for yourself. You drained me, all the while insisting that no, your problems trumped mine, that you were the sicker one, that you needed me to be happy. I got worse while you got better, and even after I was exsanguinated, you continued selfishly stealing from me.

I showed to you the fruit of my soul and shared with you the story of my metamorphosis, but you didn't listen and didn't care. You hid your intent behind a plastic smile and a purple heart, waiting until I was weak so you could make what was mine yours. You denounced and demonized the last victim of your manipulative web as you coiled further around me, but you never did say why she had been so desperate to free herself from you. Now it is clear to me. She was escaping your drain, the black hole you refuse to pull yourself from and instead tear others down into to join you in the dark.

Now, hear this, spider. I am not the moth, fruitlessly slamming against the light, only to be destroyed by the thing I so long to have. I am not the butterfly, my strength lying only in my appearance, passively searching flower to flower for a meager drop to drink. I am the blackbird that will tear apart your terrible web before you take another victim, crushing you in my beak. Since I cut the cords and fluttered free of you, you have slunk away to find another to drain dry. You said once that you longed to stay with me forever. I suppose “forever" meant only as long as I could tolerate your manipulation; only as long as you could use me like an object instead of a fellow living being. You have not won. Even the predator can become prey.

I will soar above to a new horizon, while you lay trapped in your own web.