oysters & ceviche
By Mia Dowdell
i am suffocated in it.
my throat inflates, a starchy desperate lifevest at the sound of sharp linen slacks flicking political venom off their tongues. cellar Burgundy sends mildewed arrows through the cartilage of my blunt nose. i guess the cup of Tide and my bathroom sink weren’t enough to wash the grisliness from my hollowed-out pocket. it was never this difficult to swallow. just two days ago, i laid in an ocean. i let the shy babbling of the living room heater cradle my shoulders, let it inhale peripheral noise. now, i am newborn sea kelp tugged in every direction and nailed to hardwood floor. cyclical fading, tarring of the sky does little to dim the sour of these chandelier lights. circling of shadowed sharks; raw red donor dollars their highlighted entrée. and there they are, my parents, making their twentieth act as their circus seals.
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For more than two years, our young writers have weathered an adolescence shaped by an ongoing global pandemic. But a harsh climate can also produce work of rare depth, complexity, nuance and humor. The Girls Write Now mentees in this collection have found new ways to build community and take root. This anthology is a catalog of seeds—each young writer cultivating a shimmering, emergent voice. In short stories, personal essays, poetry, and more, they reflect on life-altering topics like heartbreak, self-care and friendship. The result is a stunning book with global relevance of all this generation has endured and transformed.
I was inspired in part by what many people recognize and have likely encountered as feelings of isolation. Especially coming back from the pandemic, many of us can suddenly feel strange and uncomfortable in public spaces, even when this had never been the case before. While this was not the motivation for the poem, I did like to play with the idea of someone being placed in a situation where they know they should feel at home and excited to meet new people or have access to luxury, but instead can’t shake the feeling of not belonging.
Mia Dowdell is a high school junior. When not writing or editing for her school’s award-winning newspaper, High Tide, Mia can be found watching Succession, drinking lemon tea or writing poetry. She hopes to one day publish the novel she is working on and plans to try screenwriting after college.