Protecting What We Love

Prompt:

“because this is how we protect what we love,
by hiding what it truly means to us, this little bag of gold
we keep buried in the yard, the thing we will do anything
to keep safe, even going so far as to pretend
it doesn't exist, that there's nothing missing in the dark.”

Excerpt from Quan Barry's poem “Someone once said we were put on this earth to witness and testify”

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Little, tiny drops of rain

Prompt:

"Little, tiny drops of rain, drops of rain may look like pimples on the flower's skin but it's so ironic—it is so ironic—it is those drops that cool the flower. Flaws are the rawest and most original forms of you, how "cool" is that!" —Nita Majethia

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FLAWS: I like people who don’t know how to finish a full story. They will start by telling you, “the other day I went to HEB,” and end up with tears in their eyes, sharing with you about their grandma who died last month. They will pause and say, “Anyway, I don’t even remember what I was trying to say…” I like people who say the wrong words on accident. They will say something like “fresh of breath air,” or, “potato couch,” because it was the meaning they were after and not the correct arrangement of words. I like people who don’t talk much and when they finally do, it sounds like a pure bell ringing in the static of everyone else’s voices. But I also like people who talk too much as if they have no filter. They might interrupt you but then say, “hold on, let me just get this one thing out!” I also like people who stutter and mumble, because I have to listen closely, and the words they are choosing take great effort. I like people who can’t control their laughter. Like my uncle who turns beet red during my grandpa’s long prayers before family dinners. We all know he’s excusing himself to just to go release laughter alone in the bathroom. I like that feeling when I’m writing and I’m not even trying to be good. Something embarrassing, awkward will burst out—a girl with a stutter and bad handwriting has something to say. It feels like an accidental birth of an idea, painful and inconvenient, but alive and crying nonetheless. I also like women who wear too much make-up and perfume to HEB because I know the deep hunger of wanting to be beautiful and noticed, even among the vegetables and produce aisle on a Tuesday night. I like the little boy at my summer camp that raised his hand in a discussion about recycling to tell everyone that last night his dad never came home. I like when my uptight supervisor licks Cheetos off her fingers when she thinks no one is looking. I liked the people in Africa who had no sense of personal space. Like the lady on public transport that started braiding my hair and my host mom who would jiggle my belly fat and tell me I’m eating well—o ya gabotse! All of this is probably why adults drink so much. So we can slur old love songs and hold one another and dance to Justin Bieber—even if we can’t stand him, even if we can’t dance.

by Hallie Gayle