And Here I Live
She hides in an armor of lines and stanzas,
Wrapped tight by all her pretty words.
I watch her sometimes, chat with her while she writes furiously;
I worry she’ll be strangled by her chains of imagery.
Some day she’ll drown in all that sticky ink,
Covering her vision, already weakened
By endless metaphors and secret meanings.
Her poems say more about her than they do the world.
I walk with her unaffected, like a ghost, as
Big fluffy globs, effortlessly float to the ground around her,
Only to melted and stepped on.
But some balance on the strands of her hair
And bite her nose and cheeks until they blush.
Sticking to her glasses and fogging them up,
So she can’t see.
She sits at her computer,
Typing fast, creating the sound of violent rain,
Just so she can hear it.
Sipping the tea that is bittersweet,
No matter how much sugar she adds.
Pecking at the dense-as-lead muffins,
Odd and misshapen, nothing like a muffin should look.
But they taste all right.
Everything around her seems motionless and petrified,
But once-alive, like a beautiful picture.
The lights glitter and the store signs flash.
The sun sags low in the sky
Casting shadows and secret spells in the almost-dark.
She hardly hears her friends half-laughter,
As they walk down the twisted side street.
Flowers arch from one building to another.
She remarks to no one, that sometimes life feels like a movie.
She suffocates in the hazy air.
She’s unable to breathe as the stress presses down on her chest.
And the long words and extended metaphors crawl past her,
Nipping at her feet as she tries to take a labored step through the muck.
And she’s long lost who she is.
Tossed it to the hungry blank paper.
It ripped her soul out through her eyes,
While she was stuck in a staring contest
With how empty it looked.
It burns in her pocket
Like a dying ember.
Her hands feed it energy,
Keeping it alive
Because it keeps her alive.
She runs her thumb along the edge
Feeling where the paper is folded.
She hasn’t unfolded it in years.
Holding the corner between a finger and a thumb,
She pulls it back, undoing one stiff crease.
She opens her eyes and feels the paper still folded over itself.
She could only unfold it in her mind,
Lacking the courage to face the beast inside.
She tries folding it in half again instead;
If she cannot defeat the beast
She can make it disappear.
Half and half again, smaller and smaller
Until there is nothing left.
But she can’t fold it again; it refuses to be overpowered.
She leaves it as the ember in her pocket.
Impossible to put out,
But it won’t become a fire.
It’ll just singe a hole through the pocket.
And burn at her hands and heart.
Glowing, naggingly in the back of her mind,
Weighing down her sagging shoulders,
Hiding in the shadows to always remind her.
The folded paper holds a dead smile frozen and glued to one time,
The mad ramblings and doodles of a delusional girl.
Words that once held her world
In their hands, but have since thrown it away.
They remind her of everything she used to have,
Who she used to be,
Before the courage to toss it all away.
She was pulled out of the thick, hard-to-breathe air,
Now blinded by a world where there exists
The space to spread her wings, but never fly.
She’s long forgotten what the folded up layers of memory actually contain.
But it doesn’t matter anymore, when it holds everything.
Hanging in the balance between happiness and depression,
Her mind tipping one way or the other,
But never falling off the tightrope wire
That holds her in the sky above her world.
She stops walking and looks down at her feet
But she feels her head being pulled up by an invisible strength.
She turns to the nearest garbage bin.
Her tight grip on the paper relaxes
As she drags it into the light, and
Out of the warm pocket that feeds it all her life.
She unfolds it.
Her fingers dance with new folds, folding it a thousand times
Into a crane,
Something so free, flying anywhere it wants to,
Not tied down to a fixed point, in the middle of nowhere.
She throws it not into the trash, but into the clear, hot, color-of-joy sky.
You lay on the hard carpeted floor,rolling over
to feel the little plastic fibersbite and scratch
your exposed arms and legs.Your eyes are fixed on
the slanted streams of light,passing above you
and ending on all sides,but somehow missing you.
The fingers on one of your hands stretch out,
creeping, like a spider, along the carpeted desert terrain.
They mingle with the sunlight, soaking up it’s warmth,
casting long, strange shadows, that disappear in the darkness.
Your gaze catches on the illuminated dust faeries
as they gently glide down the streams of light,
fading in and out of nothingness.
Your other hand floats through the air,lethargically,
dancing among the faeries,but carefully,
not to disturb them in their own swishing dance.
You try to gently touch one, to feel it, but it floats away,
twisting it’s little gossamer body away from your fingers.
You lean your head back and glare, upside down,
at the sun peaking through the almost-shut curtains.
You see it melting holes the clouds and just beginning
to drip down over the horizon. You shut your eyes and the sun
is burnt into the retina, waiting at the back of your eyes.
You don’t move.
You feel the tiny faeries brushing against your skin,
musing to themselves about whether or not you are dead.
But you are very much alive, with your heart beating slowly
to the tick of the clock laying sideways on the floor.
All the hairs on your arms and legs and back and neck
stand on end. You peek out at the fuzzy world
through squinting eyes. The sun has washed away.
You can’t see the faeries anymore, but their touch tells you
They’re still there.
Age 15, Grade 10
Hunter College High School