my barbaric yawp is the sound of snapping bubblegum that rings through the dark, empty streets of the suburbs. the song i sing of myself is the soft pad of my sneakers against the pavement; i walk as decisively as i can, yet gravity does not want me so badly that it makes my footfalls convincing. the leaves of grass on my body are the skin cells that fall from me, spinning like maple seeds, leaving more of a part of me to the world than any child i would ever have. give me to hold all sounds, especially those ceaseless murmurs of cars that have lulled me to sleep since the morning i was born. i am a child of trees and sunsets and kindness, of fireflies and snow in my bedroom when i forget to shut my windows, of smothering isolation. the tempests, waters, winds do not dance here in the least corn-filled part of a corn-filled state; only the temperature and hair colors of wealthy white mothers change, those almost ceaselessly. i do not belong among the drug addicts in the drainpipe, but they are the only ones who will take me and so i will love them as my brothers and sisters because i am large enough to contain multitudes. happiness comes not in another place, but this place; yet not this hour, for it is not time yet. my very flesh is not a poem, but it bears four words, and that is a start. these are the days that must happen to me; soon, i will choose what i make of them.

- Madeline RingswaldEgan