When I sat down to read this season’s pieces, I wondered what I would teach the Young Voices that shared their work with us. Would we linger on lines or polish scenes? Would we struggle over words or dig into dialogue?
Turns out, we would do none of that.
Because the Young Voices you’ll read in these pages taught me more than I ever could have shown them, and they have so much to share with you.
Grace Tran’s poem shows us “bits of stars scattered across a hollow galaxy.” She brings us into summer nights that “were made for late night movies and / ice cream under the dusky sunset, the / kindergarten-crayon-sky.” She left me with hope in the falling light of autumn.
In her poem, “Today’s Special, and Tomorrow’s, and the Day After That’s,” Elena Lee carries us straight to her table, and has us wishing that we were also ordering “clouds–cirrus clouds, / to be exact, / with a side of fog and one of those / crepuscular rays that peek through. / The ones that tell / you the sun hasn’t forgotten / it was supposed to stop by for supper.”
Her lines are sharp and then crocheted, woven with wisdom and landing with urgency.
Finally, in “Turn Signal,” Isabel Lickey opens up her car door and takes us for a ride with her Nana and Grandpa. Their frailty and her strength lead us into a nursing community, where they are leaving Nana to go home for the night. And somehow, in the midst of the “middle schooler pink” and the fading “yellow light,” we fall apart. “She wants to leave,” Lickey says. “Leave the care community, leave Papa, leave everyone trying to hold onto someone she no longer is.”
It’s in these moments that Lickey finds her voice — showing us a scene that is both heartbreaking and gentle.
These three women have stories to share, have moments to give you, that will make you pause. They will make you hold your breath at the end of a line, pausing in wonder or aching.
I have nothing to teach them, for they have shown me what love looks like and how to order the sky. They have wished on tiger lilies and heard the click of the turning signal. They have raised their voices, and brought us home, or further than that. They’ve brought us closer to each other.
Listen to them.
Young Voices Editor