Two Girls Sit on a Patchwork Couch
San Francisco, CA
Lowell High School
Afternoons I visited her, and
beneath the rainfall on her roof
cotton blankets wrapped around us I
drank in each of her syllables. She helped me
find the right shape with my own tongue,
giving my hand a squeeze when I got one right.
Half my words were nonsense. She pretended not to notice.
I envied her vocabulary, and hoped one day I would be able to
jinx her with a word like inconsequential or trivial or barbaric and
know what it meant. You’ve probably guessed I
loved her. So I stuck around like the smell of
mulch in her backyard. She took
me there once to smell the jasmine. She
didn’t mind when I pronounced the word wrong
or forgot which flowers are feminine, so I thought she loved me back.
Pity me. Imagine the
‘quiet tears I shed when I finally
remembered the shape of those words.
She had helped me sound them out
thinking they were for someone else.
Time after time I practiced until the
vortex of sound opened up to me and on
Wednesday I told her I loved her and the
xenial melody of her voice responded
yes. That’s how you pronounce it.
The manner in which the metaphor is so seamlessly imbued into the very DNA of the piece is haunting, whip-smart, and enviably beautiful. Beneath the deft craft and technical ability of Kerr-Stein runs a potent undercurrent of yearning, poignancy, and despair that bespeaks an incredible level of emotional maturity. By the final, heart-rending line, the reader is not only hooked, but greatly moved.
Chloe Kerr-Stein graduated from Lowell H.S. in San Francisco, CA in 2019. She is studying Writing and Literature at UC Santa Barbara. She has studied at the California State Summer School for the Arts and the Kenyon Young Writer's Studio. She has been published in the 826 Quarterly, The Junkyard, and the Bay Area Book Festival's Youth Poetry Anthology.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR