Humans feel every second of our lives, and both prose and poetry attempt to capture this shared experience in new, profound ways. To read something that contains no hint of “feeling” words, and still to say, “That is me”—this is great writing. The recognition of a limit, then a push. Del Valle High School writer Mariah, who crafted this week’s Unbound selection, shows us the following things, all at once—desolate longing, sadness, hope, peace. None of these particular “feeling” words can be found anywhere within her story, and they fail to capture its true magic. Instead, there is the expressiveness of the landscape, the simple motion of cuddling with a dog, and the sound of other, “different” people rushing through life as the narrator stands still. Perhaps, behind their movement, their lives contain the same, deep wells of stillness. As they wash the dinner dishes, as they brush their teeth at night, as they climb into bed, they are all feeling. What are these feelings and where can they be found in the world? Mariah points us in the right direction.

In the Country

The Ford’s tailgate groans as Shiloh and I hop up onto our permanent yard sofa with its Texas license plate rusting and falling off. Idly, I pull the white fringe from the holes in the thighs of my faded navy jeans, and I stare out at the barren fields in front of me. I sigh as the sunset fades away into an amber-red soup over the desolate land around me.

I pull Shiloh into my arms and rest my head on her broad, golden shoulders. She barks and tries her hardest to lick my face. We’re two soldiers on an escape mission. A tin can clanks off a rock behind us. Dad’s angry, and he’s kicking all his belongings around again as though kicking things will fix his problems.

The raw smell of dirt wafts up in the fierce north wind that often caresses our trailer. Shiloh whines, frightened. I look absentmindedly over the cracking horizon where wet brown mounds with green tufts once existed. I think of excited voices, laughter, honking, shouting, begging, crying, singing, and the brushing by of all the city folk miles away as they travel down the bustling sidewalk of opportunity.

Mariah, twelfth grade, Del Valle High School

One thought on “Stillness

  1. I was visiting the workshop when Mariah wrote this piece, and it absolutely blew me away. There’s a lot packed in this short.

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