Two lines. Just two curved lines, that’s it. Fat lines, pregnant lines, not even a proper semicircle, just an arc, only, but they hold all the important stuff. That is, if you think what’s left unsaid is important (which I do, because it’s what’s
said). And the words we don’t say
can’t say
never ever will say
are protected by their own little shields.
Because people open their mouths and all these sounds come out but it’s the things that trip off the tongue that tell us more.

(When she opens her mouth but air comes out
or he opens his mouth and stammers

So take my parentheses then, my laughter and my smiles, and overlook the way you look at me and I
because suddenly my head is white noise and my mind is a mine cart in a cartoon, when the tracks are gone and it’s suspended in the air, and it’s
(Push them away before they can shove you;
watching them fall is easier than falling
or, rather, the sudden deceleration at the end.)

Some people have the gift of gab. You, for instance. But I wasn’t so blessed. So grab a dictionary and you tell me what
(oh, the irony there)

And everyone knows that if words are silver, then silence is golden, and a picture may be worth a thousand words but silences are pictures upon pictures, a pure plethora of pictures, so when I’m comfortably nestled in the air where your arm should be, reach out and open those parentheses
like so
Not that’s ever going to happen, ’cause we operate on different waves, and you’re sitting there tapping out with one hand
and all I can do is listen.

Nina Wade, Age 17, Grade 12, Stuyvesant High School, Gold Key

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