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I pick at my acne.
And I try to roll my sleeves up
as symmetrically as possible.
I eat mints in odd numbers and
when I have cold toes
it reminds me of being a 6 year old:
all full of brains and sour cream and onion flavored chips.
I wish I still had the wall that my mom measured out my height on.
I want to be able to see how much I’ve grown.
I used to hold up three fingers
by pushing down the pinky
and leaving the other ones up.
Now, I hold down the index.
There’s no need to point at things
any more.
There’s a brick wall in the building I live in.
It always looks the same
but if you asked me to draw it today
and then asked me to draw it tomorrow,
it’s going to look different.
I look different.
I feel the same.
I’m still figuring things out.
Getting up and moving is tougher
than I thought.
—  5641- 9706- 1365 by Alex Dang!
You should all keep moving,” says a fourth grader, oldest and wisest among us. “If you don’t keep moving, you’ll fall asleep and die.”

Two kindergartners look terrified. They begin jumping up and down.

A third grader snorts. “Yer mental. We’re not gonna fall asleep; it’s too cold.” The kindergartners’ jumping slows, then stops.

“That’s why you fall asleep,” says the fourth grader. “And then you die. I saw it in a movie.”

The kindergartners jump around like maniacs, hats slipping down over their eyes.

…A girl across the school yard screams. We look at each other, imagining all sorts of wonderful things happening to make the girl scream, then race toward the sound.

It’s a foot. Well, a paw. A little black paw, sticking out of the snow in the corner of the school yard. All the kids who own cats start crying.

The wise old fourth grader digs around the paw in the snow and reveals a whole fox. It’s incredible, perfect, and frozen stiff.

We all stare. The fourth grader stands back, his hands on his hips, and sighs. “He shoulda kept moving.
— 

Rat Girl by Kristin Hersh

This book, man

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As a YoungArts finalist, I’ve spent the last week in glorious Miami with 24 of the most talented young writers in the country. It has been an incredible, incredible honor and experience. I still can’t believe I was even chosen, that’s just how amazing everyone there was. As a finale to the one week intensive, I performed my poem “Sink” at The Jewel Box and this is it! 

Sink

My aunt miscarried four times 
and after each one, she took me to Chinatown 
in the city, and we would watch the gloved men gut 
fish after fish after fish as if it meant something. 
 
She carried all the ultrasounds for years after, 
with names and the expected date of birth scribbled 
on the back, and on the train ride home, she’d clutch 
the bag of headless fish close to her body, 
and softly, rub her finger over the worn leather of her wallet, 
where the faint memories of life gathered dust inside. 
 
My uncle used to burn hundreds of matches 
on the front porch, each one burning like a firefly.
The first time we came home, he stared
at my aunt’s stomach and stumbled backwards, 
something immense, something too big to understand, to describe, 
quaking inside of him. He stopped burning matches 
and started burning flowers, instead. 
 
My aunt carries him too; in the way she walks, 
stooped over, with this gentle sorrow pulling her 
into the floor like sand. 
 
Salma, May 17th 2003 
Laila, November 29th 2006 
Sophia, January 4th 2007 
Hanna, August 23rd 2011 
 
Four seasons for four daughters; 
every day, dawn is the time for grief, 
dawn is the moment where my aunt can finally sob 
under the weight of the world, a 34 year old Atlas 
with a home empty of children, and a body that deemed her unfit; 
I have grown into a family of grief, 
a life in which mourning and morning mean the same thing. 
 
She said once: I am a shell, and you can hear 
the ocean sputter and cough in my bones; I swear, 
I would swim, if I wasn’t already sinking.