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Ode to Emptiness This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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And there she was,
cloaking the room,
blanketing the whitewashed walls
the first time I saw the world.
She surged into my lungs
that roared like an exhausted car engine
roars to life.
Bearing an upbringing of dust bunnies in her wake,
I stared.
And she- mimicking the configuration of my new room-
stared back.

And there she was.
barely a strip of her writhing between the words I had thrown onto the page,
mocking me,
like a snake mocks its prey.
I contemplated in silence,
but the words spilled themselves onto the pages
that my belligerent fingers had pulverized
in frustration.
No matter how long my teacher coaxed me,
the letters still swam like slush dumped into confined space in an
unruly manner.
But then, she came, grew,
maneuvering herself between the heaps of letters,
transforming the slush into flawless
cubes of ice.
It was then that I realized,
words were not words
without space to separate them.
She was a mediator,
suppressing each participant before the fight spiraled into a
war.

And there she was,
the year I got glasses,
because I read so much.
She used her light body
to shield the sunlight squinting at me
from behind faded venetian blinds,
but I guess they penetrated her thin film of flesh,
because I saw the words anyways,
had to conceal my eyes behind twin blades of glass anyways.
But when my eyes wriggles out of prison,
she was the one to welcome me at the gate,
and I let my imagination take the wheel.
Then my mother’s face adopted a scowl,
said I shouldn’t digress into her embrace,
said I should fade back into the pages of
that book.
So I did.

And there she was,
the year those books finally
bought me a job.
She nestled in those fundamental moments between sentences,
offering me time
to rearrange my plethora of trampled thoughts.
To me clients,
she was a complete vacancy.
But to me, she was a split-second of anticipation
contemplation
evacuation.
That familiar current that carried my clients to safety.
They beamed at me
And I simply beamed back, because I knew it would never
cross their minds
that she was the one that bought me time
to make the final decision.

And there she was,
the absence of a loved one.
Everywhere my gaze fell,
reality toyed with my senses,
creating an illusion of my long-lost grandfather,
though she was all that was there,
lurking in the corners,
lurking in the recesses of my mind.
She was what I felt inside when
they all drifted off
to a better place.
That was when I tore off those restrictive glass panels
from my face, adorned with tears,
because there was not a soul
to stop me.
Emptiness welcomed me like my family once did
each Christmas,
their smiles illuminated by golden flames,
washing away my scars of lament.
Emptiness was present since the day of my birth.
She was the air, the very oxygen in my lungs.
She would never abandon me.
No matter what sharp turn life decides to take,
she is a loyal hound.
She is permanent.

She sculpts and delineates every feature of the world
with impossible precision and craftsmanship,
but no one acknowledges her,
because she never boasts.
Emulating whatever Ziplock bag or Mason jar
careless mothers had restrain her in,
she is the spice in the soup,
the tech crew behind a Broadway musical,
the Pythagoreans behind Pythagoras,
the essential ingredient that never struck the humans as cardinal
only because they never saw it.



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