The Writer's Story This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

August 3, 2010
I was little once,
With dimpled palms,
Thin spider webs of hair,
And a chopped-up smile.
The world was sewn for someone twice my size,
Like my father’s paisley neckties and droopy-tailed Oxford shirts,
Which I wore anyway.

I was little once and I didn’t speak,
Hands were my language,
That’s what they tell me.
Other kids I remember, they spoke,
(Katarina, the girl from the playground with an eye patch and scalp-colored hair;
Ben, who pasted together clumps of feathers as a present for my new baby sister),
But the dimensions of me were wrong.

I was little once and I didn’t speak, so the took me to a woman,
Waxy pink lipstick,
Back then, I thought the color was natural,
<i>She</i> spoke,
She used medical words that flopped and congealed between my ears:
“Fine motor skills delayed. May not talk for a while. She’ll be a poor student, and have trouble especially in reading and writing.”
That was when I learned of the earth-shattering power of words,
Because the diagnosis made my mother cry,
That’s what Mom told me: “I came home and bawled.”

Would she have loved me less if I didn’t overcome?
Would it be such a crippling blow,
To have a daughter who could never write this story?
I get straight As,
Flying colors,
Instead of parties, I stay home and read Whitman, Emerson, Tennyson,
My pen is my emblem, my fifth limb,
I know when to use ‘whom’ instead of ‘who’,
And words dwell naturally in the fold of my blood,
They treat the tangles of my bones like monkey bars.

Are these the things my mother loves?

I didn’t ask,
But a collar of pain roped its way around my heart,
Which suddenly felt very,

I was little once and I didn’t speak, so they took my to a woman and she was wrong,
Each success I have is like a tally mark of proof,
Writing has become who I am,
It has wedged itself into the crevices of me and gotten hopelessly stuck,
Brazenly, I say it: “I am a writer.”

A reader, too:
I have studied magic at Hogwarts,
Rode a raft down the greasy Mississippi with Huck Finn,
Felt the cold in the halls and hearts of Wuthering Heights,
Been marooned and tasted the burn of sun and sand with Robinson Crusoe,
Plummeted down the rabbit hole into Wonderland,
Glimpsed the yellowing half-bride, Mrs. Haversham,
And learned the true meaning of a run-on sentence upon reading <i>Don Quixote</i>.

I’ve penned stories of my own,
Traced my creations of worlds and people onto waiting pages,
I have triumphed over the low standards set for me,
Most definitely, I have become.
I’ve known, loved, hated, defeated, and cherished the words,
And, doing so, have made them mine.

You know…
No one’s been able to get me to stop talking,
Once I started.

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