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Two Girls Sit on a Patchwork Couch

Chloe Kerr-Stein

San Francisco, CA

Lowell High School


CAS for Database

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.


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