The words in my books
Cry out, as loudly as they can:
Some argue that God exists,
And some prove the opposite;
Some honor my nation, some deflate it.
Their voices are so clamorous
That they overwhelm my own.

The numbers on my transcripts
Tell me who I am.
Like Greek epic poets,
They tell a tale of this ā€œIā€
ā€” A hero, or a boring villager.
They offer me a crown of flowers,
But its fragrance suffocates me.

So when the school bell frees me
Into your nuanced shades of green,
When your coarse whisper
Is the only thing I can hear,
The timetables making up my skeleton
Dissolve in the sunlight;
I soften into a cloud.

This self I put together collapses
As the inner self reblooms,
Quiet, still, and imperturbable. Like you.

Originally published in KidSpirit Online for the Education issue.

When she wrote this poem, Peiyao Yu was 16 years old. She is from Beijing, China. Her interests include modern/post-modern philosophy, literary theory, creative writing, and the history of religious ideas.

Artwork by: Hashim Trunkwala, created at 16 years old.