24 August 2014

from your valedictorian

I don't think you understand
what it's like
to be me.
I have never been anything
except for an envelope
"To the parents of:"
stamped across the front-
my family's version of a fortune cookie
written in the language of
"How many A's did you get"
and whether or not my teacher wrote
"Excellent student"
or
"Pleasure to have in class."
Because they mean different things
and one is always better than the other
(and I have always been the other).
There is no life outside of academics for me:
 number two pencils and standardized tests
are all I have come to know.
I can't balance a checkbook,
but I can balance chemical equations.
So while I will never use that again in my life,
I do still have a number to carry with me,
more proof that I've succeeded.
Sometimes it feels less like I've triumphed over the test
and more like the test has won against me.
I feel like a slave, minus the ball-and-chain,
plus the desk-and-chair.
I have no knowledge of the world.
I have no way to acquire it.
I can name historical figures and significant dates
and write you a four page essay on how the Boston Tea Party
impacted the American Revolution,
but for the life of me,
I don't know what I would write on my resume.
School has defined my life-
academics has always been what made me special-
but soon
I'll be graduating.
So who will I be then?
Someone tell me
that they understand what it's like
to be me
because
I don't think I do.

17 August 2014

sundown

The sun and the sky part
in the most beautiful farewell I've ever seen:
bleeding together,
 even as they pull apart-
rays of light stretching like fingers
extended in a lover's caress.
Her light
gently strokes his face
streaming across is like tears
neither willing to let the other go
until she sinks
below the horizon
and all he has left of her
is her image
imprinted
behind his eyelids.

14 August 2014

a stuffed dog, a child's make-up kit, and a doll

I kneel beside the small vanity, unable to fit in the petite plastic chair. The paint peels and fades, ghosts of teddy-bears and princesses the only things that remain. The mirror reflects my image, distorted and warped; I can barely make it out. What would I see, if I could? All I can see is her. She used to sit here, in this petite plastic chair, brushing out her short locks; they would have transformed into long tresses, had she had more time. But she was beautiful, nonetheless. I swipe my hand across the chair, stirring the dust that has collected over years of neglect; it's cold to the touch, just like she was when I found her. Long gone, yet her presence still lingers here. On the small vanity, the make up case lies open, just the way she left it. Turning herself into a princess as little girls so often do. She didn't need it, wouldn't have needed it as she grew. She already was a princess, my princess.

I gaze across the room at the tiny bed she used to sleep in, where I'd sing her to sleep and read her favorite stories, where I scolded her for jumping and squealing in delight. The sheets have never been made; they lie in a tangled heap at the foot of the mattress, and it looks like she could have just tumbled out of dreams into waking. I can still see her bedhead, spikes and curls; she looked like a wild child and she loved it. Her pillows are strewn about, half on the bed, and half off. I think I can spot the tail of her favorite stuffed dog peeking out from beneath the bed-skirt. She refused to sleep without it; I can remember how peaceful she looked, snuggling with that dog, tucked into the blankets, sleeping soundly, deep breaths rumbling her frame. I can remember, also, her clutching her dog in one arm and her blanket in the other, as she came into my room seeking comfort, or maybe just a glass of water. Interruptions that the more selfish, less loving side of me used to resent. But I'd give anything now, anything, to wake up to her sweet face one more time.

If I'd been more alert, if I'd checked on her sooner, would things be different?