The 2019 Poet Laureate is Megan Slusarewicz. Her poem is titled "Waiting to be Discovered."
There are 4 billion Earth-ish worlds
in our galaxy and billions of galaxies
in this universe. But no curious
tribe of beasts has found us yet.
We are terribly alone.
But should we be surprised?
Evidence of this isn’t
difficult to find:
It’s there in the classrooms
of social pariahs, left to endure
on their own, no partners to study with
and no group projects.
It’s there in the cafeteria
where groups stay stagnant ossify,
where wandering bodies rarely
chart new land.
Some believe we are doomed to loneliness,
that any species advanced enough
to travel the cosmos
self-destructs before it can.
As hate’s acidic river carves its way
through school and world,
we build defenses.
for our safety.
for our safety.
for our safety.
We are told it’s to defend against
some nebulous “them”
but we can’t be fooled;
“they” are “us.”
In some dim, repressed way,
we’re defending against ourselves.
Is this what we were meant to be?
That despite our fight, we’ll only ever be
flotsam in the current’s pull?
As we near the end of these four years,
the truth becomes clear: we’re not tragic
leaves pulled steady to the waterfall.
How much we undervalue
our own blood, so fused with power that each
pumping beat of heart is a rebellion against
every bad thought we’ve had in loneliness.
We’re now seeing that these prophesies
and explanations are masquerades
of the truth. We can feel the truth pulling
on our hearts, bellies, and throats.
But, unlike tides, it pulls cords tied
to the sails we sewed from the little parts
of ourselves to prove we are resilient.
We’ve just been waiting for the wind to catch.
Because any kid who has drowned in air
or has been fed by it and then burned up
will tell you: this world is not a perfect one.
But if it was, there would be no good stories
to tell. No cloth to gather for our sails.
No flawed charm in uncanny valley
murals across the school. No solitary
water bottle perched on the window ledge
of the cafeteria, as bold
and ancient as an obelisk.
No raucous restroom gatherings
immortalized on Reddit.
No rogue basketballs flying
out of grasp during high school musicals.
No hurried and unfulfilled schemes
to explore the sinkhole.
Sure, there were times
we thought we’d suffocate,
when the world became so oversaturated
we squeezed our eyelids shut
to block out the glare.
There were times we wished
we’d evaporate and become the air.
But our experiences,
our unexpected friends,
surprisingly successful jokes,
and late-night math eureka-s,
taught us otherwise.
Maybe the question isn’t whether
there are aliens, but whether
we’re wise enough to see them.
They’re in the classroom pariahs
and unfamiliar cafeteria cliques.
They’re in ourselves.
In all our looking up
we failed to look around.
There is so much universe
Now, there’s a hinting stillness
in the air. In this moment,
can’t you feel it?
We’re more than apes waiting
to be discovered.
Through all these fears and omens
of unforgiving tides, we’ve risen
to the surface,
stronger than before.
So, let’s lift these sails
we’ve patched together and, finally,
at what we’ve Become,
what we’ve left to create.
And get ready.
Here comes the wind.