United States

Graceful Descent

April 8, 2018

I envy the engineering of birds.
Descendants of dinosaurs, witness

to every era. When seething magma whispered smoke
across the earth, they floated high above

and watched the world cloak itself in fire.
I’d always hoped to wake up new. To float high above,

glide on perfect wax wings, gaining distance
from my heritage. The genesis of otherness,

the origin of a tribe, is not a family tree, redwood
skin, a language with rolled r’s and puckered l’s

thrown in. I can’t remember when I realized
that interesting wasn’t a compliment, that ethnic

didn’t mean beautiful. But maybe it could. My lineage
is poetry, scrap metal and cracked asphalt,

three generations under one roof and mother-
​tongues biting into one another, bare feet pounding

against grass. We’ll dance till apocalypse, let our accents
overwhelm the spines of our speech.

So back to the drawing board then, the life without
charred wax wings. An existence with pungent dinners,

with accented syllables, with songs, drumming beats
pulsing in our Honda. For so long, I’d envied

the birds. Their maddening lightness, untethered
to wind, floating freely amongst the trees.

But right now, right here, laughing loud and quick
amid staccato speech: oh, yes,

this feels like flying.
Written by Gayatri Rajan, age 14

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  • Stone of Jade

    this is more than beautiful. more than gorgeous. i have no words to describe this. This is beyond amazing!

    about 2 months ago
  • r|A|i|N

    it's weird that this has 44 likes but a single comment. even though it was written forever ago, i think this poem is beautiful and deserves way more praise than it got. your use of line and spacing and the repetitive themes of birds make this a worthy first place. really great job!

    almost 2 years ago
  • Dani A. Remlap

    Wow. This is amazing, congratulations!

    over 2 years ago