Like a tree triumphant in the violet cascades of death
I was alone but I had no budding flowers.
While crouched over in the confines of my 8 foot by 11 foot single
I pinched my thighs not to fall asleep
alone. Though I had three more subjects I stared at my week-old chai
ignoring the integrals and French vocab lists. The heater
broke three months ago but I wore a gray t-shirt.
I was afraid. My friend’s room was dark.
I have no one to pester at this hour
or any hour. I blamed my plummeting grades on boredom,
but now I could put my finger on it—loneliness, it echoed.
How many more binge-eating sessions until I realize
I need more than chocolate to fill my emptiness? I am not that tree.
I may be disappearing in a black hole but I’m not trying to survive.
In the heat of February I put on a suffocating winter jacket
and flip flops maybe to prove a point or
just to be an idiot. In the daylight I
slapped the sidewalk with shoes too shiny and grimaced when snow
dug in between my toes. I handed the cashier crisp
bills for a greasy grilled cheese
just to feel relevant. She was amazed. My friend kept the window open
to let in the wind and gossip as I rubbed my oily hands on
her binders and she chanted soy, eres, es, somos.
I realized people who hook up are all lonely.
Outside I wore an irony like that picture of a field
half green half gray with seven trees and
heaven shining above. My eyes were on gray;
I didn’t recognize green. One tree is nearly on the border
between green and gray but it’s still on gray. I am not that tree.
I may tread between hope and despair but I can’t see hope.
My mom said it was a mistake to send me to boarding school.
She asked me if I was lonely.
I think she was worried when I said it was just procrastination.
We drove back to my dorm at night but I couldn’t see stars,
not even in this countryside. The last time I saw them was
summer when I still thought I was happy alone.
I still think I’m happy. I think wrong. I finally put on a hoodie
over my gray t-shirt. Suddenly I regret everything.
This picture of a cumulonimbus fills the whole screen but
I only look at the stars. The sky is a deep navy and
white dots are scattered across the blue. What am I supposed to be amazed at?
I regret not asking them to fix my heater.
How many counseling sessions does it take to give up?
I wonder where the line is between love and disappointment.
I can only see stars in the countryside and I hate that. We all need to
see stars to be fools and to hope when there’s actually no hope. When is it loneliness and when is it not being strong enough?
I am not a tree, or any tree. I may be looking at the stars but I don’t know why.
Nadia Jo is a student at Deerfield Academy, an independent boarding school in Massachusetts. She has published two books of poetry and short stories. Her works have been recognized by Creative Communication and the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards as well as being published in The Tavern. As a cellist, Jo has also given a solo performance at Carnegie Hall. She lives in South Korea.