Sunday, May 5, 2019

the power of their words

13, going on wise

I have a class of seventh graders
who regularly overwhelm me
with the quality of their writing,
with the quality of the self within them
that will not be denied the floor upon which to speak,
it is the first of the ninth month of our being together,
and I challenge them to write an essay,
an essay on the meaning of life,
the purpose that we should follow
with the steps of our choosing,
the essay follows in-depth readings of stories
within which the authors develop possible answers,
the strengths and the pitfalls of choices,

the quality of the examined life each of my students lives
and puts into words proves to the doubter within me
the rightness of the believer within me,
the one who sees each student
as daring to be whole
when dissolution calls so strongly to them,

one student doubted: 
“I’m only 13.  What do I really know?”

I responded that I see them as “13 going on wise,”
and feared that they see themselves as “13 going on stupid,”
another student wrote that she knew
that each of them hated themselves,
while still finding wisdom and eloquence in her points and words,

their essays, dropped onto the scale of insight,
prove the amazing power that a young adult can feel and express,
if but given the opportunity and support to speak the truth
that the mountains they are climbing allow them to see.

by Henry H. Walker
May 3, ‘19

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