Arnold O. Beckman High School
Heart beating in a crowd of strangers,
my father reassures me,
the ocean wakes up every morning
to pursue the soil. I picture the sun,
unpeeling green mountains,
and I think to cut a piece of the sky for myself.
If not me, who?
Skin atop skin, a size I can't
peel off. I teach myself to never be satisfied,
to keep fingers fidgeting, picking
at loose ends that will never be silk.
Instead, I take up space. My skin
is my birthright, after all. I try on paintings
meant for walls. I only look good in the dark,
I know, but I try on the light, conjure new wardrobes.
Kerosene shivers beneath my tongue.
Immediately, I think I've met my match.
Mind on the wind, I dream to
sip defiance and breathe tobacco-scented air,
a relic of nobody's.
Somewhere, rain drips where it hasn't touched in years.
I'm taught to be risk averse,
to whisper Amen only on my deathbed.
I can only wonder which gods to plead to for help.
Blasphemy, a word upon my father's lips.
What is to become of me?
I don't think I'll be here for long.
But I'll wait, keep fires burning,
invent a breed of patient combustion.
I'm made of atoms small enough to be nonsense,
and I tear them away to feel something.
I laugh with my head back, like they do
Write to the author of your own biography.
I decide I must.
History is written by the victors,
and so let it be known,
I'll be the man with two pens in hand.
The speaker grapples with body image, religion, teenage rebellion, even self-harm, and yet the poem is delicate and honest. And hope-filled.
April Wang is a senior at Beckman High School in Irvine, California. She has been influenced by the quiet rain of Irvine, the chatter of Shanghai pollution, and the rolling cornfields of Illinois. You can find her work online, in print, and scrawled on loose leaf paper.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR