Evren - Oakland, 9th
flower crowns and highlighter made of sundust. we were safe, tucked away from the horrors that raged around us. tucked into a little oasis of joy and flight. we would spin in circles, crying and laughing and living (something i'd forgotten how to do). perhaps I was the only one who saw how flowers sprung up in the imprint of your foot. how the places we danced together became more alive, more vibrant, and that when I was with you my smile came easier than it ever had.
my life is perfect, or so I've told everyone, including myself. somehow I still tell myself I am just a fraud, even when it's just me crying. i have begun to block out all of the days that added more cracks and holes, so that i am safe from their intrusion.
i am moon, 3 am, tumblr, gilded eyes, too many spotify playlists, words organized by nothing but emotion, tangled hair, water, fire, shadows and wind, riding in old trucks and loud music, bruised knees, blurry photos, dimples, sarcasm, train tracks and salt, lavender and teal, prayers to forgotten gods, mascara or eye bags, citrus and the notes app.
you are sun, good mornings, campfires, meadows and wildflowers, broken hearts, polaroids and tea, words that take me back to summer stargazing with you, google docs, 10 pm texts, leaps, jumps and flips, paintings, checkered print, planet orbits, plum purple, apples and bare feet, backpacking, bagels, road trips and ash, and of course, dancing atop my doubts and sadness.
how do I tell you that I am a burden to this planet when you are a shimmering bubble, yearning to break free of its earthly constraints? how do I tell you that you are more my sister than my twin? how do I tell you that I've always dreamed of being a bird, that I never knew how high we could fly until I met you. i don't know how to tell you any of this, tell anyone any of this, so I'll leave this here for you to one day find.
this is my love letter. do you understand? i think you may have saved me, without me knowing it.
Anneka, 11th- Vancouver, Canada
Imprinted in my skin is the embrace of warm air, punctuated by bursts of cool breeze
Imprinted in my memory is the sound of crickets chirping
They sound green and crisp and lively; they chatter just as insects do - their voices harmonizing in a symphony orchestra
They are muses to the rolling slaps of waves on flat sand and jagged rocks
Pine trees and meadow grasses swish and sigh in the meadow air, a string quartet of foliage. Above it all, laughter splatters the piece like lyrics
Bits of conversation rise above the music in audible smiles
Finishing touches to a song of summer.
And I sit in the middle of it, and so do my friends, our bodies running on fresh seafood and salad and coolers
The past has dissolved, the future is an eternity away, and nothing in the world could possibly be wrong
And it’s all that we can do to soak up as much of this beautiful island music that we can.
It seems our eyes were carefully made for this very moment - made for the scenery that is reflected in them right now.
Colors of tangerine orange and dusty pink dispel into deep blues and emotive purples as the night approaches
It creeps over the pinks and oranges until they disappear completely
Stars begin to show their faces.
They are so friendly with each other that they unite to form pools of sparkly white.
It’s called the milky way, but to me, it looks more like angel dust.
And beneath the watercolor painting that is the night sky,
The crickets chirp and the waves slap and the grasses brush and we listen and watch.
It’s all that we can do to revel in the collective beauty of the here and now.
Later, the sky will be awash with black, and the island will be soothed into sleep
Except for the crickets and us
There seems to be infinite time for crickets to sing their songs
And for teenagers to whisper and giggle
Select few have felt the serenity and the beauty and the deep listening that I have,
And my friends,
And the crickets.
And we are so lucky.
Truth, 10th - Oakland, CA
In a Mexican household, there is no change. We receive the yells every day as we open the door or sometimes they greet us in.
I’m not trying to say that we need help it’s just that my friends know what we go through every day. That is how THEY are, we can’t change them because they were treated the same or much worse.
It’s funny how I relate to my friend and others, we are good at hiding stuff, even the truth. We hide everything from them. We probably don’t even talk to them that much and if we do it’ll end up with neighbors banging on our door to shut up.
Since we were small, we didn’t know what was going on. Family issues. Everyone has them. Mom’s screaming at dad because they don’t have enough money to pay rent, bills, and provide food. The older sibling would be in conversation with them or with us.
We hide in our room and cover our ears.
Amalie, 9th - Wichita, KS
The sound of the keys on a keyboard.
The smell of freshly printed paper.
The satisfaction that stems from finishing a story you’ve labored over, pondered on, developed.
Ah, the joys I find in a story.
I become lost in books, connecting to the characters, going through the same hardships and experiences they go through.
I feel as if I’m right beside them, through all their trials and tribulations.
These are characters I’ve laughed for, shed tears over.
Characters I feel I’ve known all my life.
I see the sights, hear the sounds, know the emotions of their story.
Reading is truly unique.
It provides an escape from the real world.
I dive through the pages, exploring the unknown.
Reading is something I hope I’ll never stray from, never cease doing, because reading is something that truly can’t ever be replaced.
Students 6th-12th Grades