2019

2019

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.

Locked doors

for our safety.

Name tags

for our safety.

Metal detectors

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?

 

No.

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

So, I

murals across the school. No solitary

water bottle perched on the window ledge

look

of the cafeteria, as bold

at n

what

and ancient as an obelisk.

No raucous restroom gatherings

immortalized on Reddit.

And

No rogue basketballs flying

Hert

out of grasp during high school musicals.

No hurried and unfulfilled schemes

with friends

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

to explore.

 

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,

100k around

at what we’ve Become,

what we’ve left to create.

And get ready.

Here comes the wind.

 

–Megan Slusarewicz

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