Ayla Radha Schultz
Saint Ann's School
how do you boil down a life to its edges?
I was a pot-lid-unsealed kind of girl
a never-learned-to-drive kind of girl
a girl who loved to lap up sunlight like money
leave me on a stove and watch me singe
watch my hair curl and skin flake
it smells like rubber the day after
my irises now tinted lightly grey.
I want to see my whole shadows
catch myself aware as I look to the cuts we made
our remnants at one a.m. sing
loud enough to wake the baby next door,
to bend the air and remind ourselves
our substance is still alive
to move others to knock, say:
“It took two hours to put Betty to bed, so
please shut up.”
I was a tea-in-morning kind of girl
an air-caught-on-Sundays kind of girl
a girl who loved to dip her head below the bathwater
when this is all over will we go to the ocean
and float, our limbs will let go
stare up towards the clouds — the world melting
our horizon turning to threads.
we became water and as we boiled over
I wished you happy birthday
our arms melting to meet the counter
last night an ambulance landed
next door, my knuckles bleached
as the circulating horns drilled to my brain
breathe and watch and breathe
I still can lock the doors at night.
I am an always-cold type of girl
a hears-sirens-and-creases-up kind of girl
a girl who checks the locks on windows before she goes to sleep
I woke up and felt like I was closing down
mouth saran-wrapped shut I chopped away the covers
broke arms free — dust always settles off my hair in the morning
can you see my throat constricting?
as I stand by the stove flipping pancakes
one sticks to the cast iron, leaves
a film of crunch behind, peel it up
watch as it gets sucked up the exhaust fan.
meditate, you tell me, place hands on knees
what if I am terrified?
my voice echoes into blankness
the reverberations coughing back
must I stretch myself to snapping
to find my core?
I am a corners type of girl
a thighs-stuck-to-plastic-chairs-in-July type of girl
a girl who smells like city no matter how much I scrub away my skin.
From the passionate strength of the title to the final line, this one is refined, casual, beautiful.
Ayla Radha Schultz is a Senior at Saint Ann's School in Brooklyn, New York. She loves writing both poetry and fiction, and was lucky enough to attend the Iowa Young Writers Workshop in 2019. Her work has been featured in Rattle Young Poets Anthology, Canvas, Aerie International, and the upcoming issue of Hanging Loose Magazine.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR