When loss tugs, I write.
The words sway like dancers
Under a cloud-shot September sky,
And I’m not sure where they come from—
Maybe from the calluses on my fingertips
Or the embers that burn in my bones or
The sunlight flooding my eyes and lighting
Even the darkest corners of my mind.
One day, the words stop. I sit and
Stare at the wrinkled snow-white paper
No sentences scrawling from my pen,
And a lump rises in my throat as I realize
Without words, I don’t know
Who I am.
Days pass, months, fading in the red sunset.
Tears stain the pages
More often than ink.
One March day at school, I ask David
What lights the fire in his blood
And my friend looks at me with a tight smile
That doesn’t reach his eyes and says
I don’t have any fire.
I am like him— scorched in summer heat,
Glowing in sunrays, yet unable to burn.
When the April clouds start to drift,
I become stubborn.
A blank document scowls up at me
Like the twisted face of a long-dead ghost
And my cobweb nerves tremble under its gaze.
Seconds pass, the minute hand
Clawing at my skin, scraping
The dead coals in my bones
But I steel myself and make my heart become iron.
I set the font, crack my knuckles
Then write a sentence, another, another,
My blood burning like lantern-lit flames
In the night, and the sturdy type
Clicks out on the page like the steps
Of a samba de roda
The similes flying like feather-tailed gowns
On a September wind.
Terpsichore dances across the pages
And my heart sings like a hammer on steel.
Cate Pitterle is a junior at Cary Academy, where she writes for the school’s literary magazine and is the editor-in-chief of the newspaper. She also works as a second reader for Polyphony H.S., an international literary journal for high schoolers. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Teen Ink Print, Body Without Organs, Foliate Oak, and elsewhere, and has been recognized by Scholastic Art and Writing. She has a seemingly permanent sock tan.