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Mary Jo Baetzold

Grade: 12

Mayfield High School

Instructor: Kari Beery

A Silent Work of Art

Poetry

A Silent Work of Art

The second he needed space,
everything changed.

My body: haggard.
My body: staggered.
The dagger of separation tore through,
through skin I believed to be thick,
penetrating my heart,
made me sick to my stomach.
My fluttering butterflies died in a flick of a switch.
My breaths went from stutters,
mesmerized,
entranced,
to nothing real quick.

Devastation.
Desolation.
Deprivation.

In a matter of seconds,
the clock wound its way to midnight,
and I went from the favorite to the antagonist.
In a matter of seconds,
our love went from sacred to hatred—
communication cut off like blood's dire circulation.

And I thought it was my fault.

I was the reason for the sudden halt in communication.
So I received sanctions just for loving.
So I lost
support,
defense,
all further relations.
So I remained languished in a torturous cell,
forbidden of reassuring maintenance,
not allowed to see the person I thought was stationed in my life forever.

In a begging manner,
I questioned,
"Doesn't the shepherd come back for his heavenly creation?"
"Yes," they answered, "but not when the shepherd was a disguise."
— — — — —
It took me two years.
Two,
long,
hard,
arduous
years.
Relentlessly releasing rivers of remorse,
when the guilt should not have been mine.
Yet I still paid the fines,
because I didn't see the signs that say:
Sometimes the good guy commits the crime.

Friends tried to tell me it wasn't my fault;
I tried to tell me.
But it took a trip to hell to be baptized,
baptized with the realization
that I could become a creation of something more than my losses,
to know that I was the boss of myself.
I didn't have to live lonely with the costs of heartbreak.

It took a few moments of silence.



To put pauses on my weeps,
to forget about my causes,
to know that I can create something worth applauses,
to not wait for someone to build me from the ground up again.

Because now I know that…

You are not the operator on my roller coaster of emotions.
You are not the wind carrying me in
left,
right,
Z i g-
Z a g
motions.
You are not the boss in charge of my promotions.
You are not the puppeteer controlling my strings of personal devotions.

Because now I know that…

I am in control of my own construction.
I put into place a plan for the destruction
of the parts of my past that should not be in conjunction with today,
what's worth a deduction from my energy.
— — — — —
I am me and you are you.
You're in the past and I am here.
Right here.
In this present moment.
Can you hear it?

No?
Good.
That's the silence—
the silence of you put to rest in my heart,
for I pulled the plug on our misery,
burying you with the hurt with which I am ready to part.
To start new,
always remembering what I learned from you.
Because I'm done painting,
done critiquing every stroke we designed.
So it's time to hang up our messy,
precious,
horrible,
magical,
finished
work of art.


Living Like a Child

Personal Essay & Memoir

Living Like a Child

There is no doubt. Children are passionate people. They may not be able to make legislative change. They may not be able to take to the streets in protest alone. Heck, they may not even be able to cross the street by themselves. But children have profound perceptions of the world. They view this monstrous planet with a clean lens, no one filtering their opinions or ideas yet. If only the adults acted like the youth.

I was nine and I was confused. Surveying the screen hanging in the living room, the 2013 news plastered joyous footage of celebration. Love was in the air. Gay marriage was legalized, supported, and appreciated everywhere. Well, not everywhere. Some people had savagely stomped onto the streets with their irate faces and seething signs. Not everyone wanted a version of love that all people could possess. But why would people hate love? Love your neighbor as yourself, right? Why would people get so mad at others rejoicing in relief at the news of equality? Why do they look so mad when everyone else, clothed in vibrant hues, spinning and swaying in jubilation, are happier than ever?

I was 11 and I was upset. I spent weeks watching campaigns and learning what government was. I asked questions in my sixth grade social studies class, reflecting with my mom, filling my brain to the brim with enticing election information. I could not quite define a Democrat or Republican (those were not important), but I could choose between right and wrong. Without a deep knowledge of politics, I knew the person I wanted to lead my country should be kind, warm, and selfless. Instead, I watched a man bully and bombard people with rockets of rude remarks. I watched a man mock minority men and women who did nothing to deserve his domineering diction. I watched a man who was not fit for the presidency. My eyelids quickly unstuck themselves the morning following election day. "What happened?" I anxiously asked my mother as she walked into my room. My mom stared back at me with sad eyes. This was not how the story should have ended. How could he win? What happened to quality and experience and human decency? Why do people pick the bully? How could a bully be my president? Our president? Our leader?

I was 16 and I was perturbed. The rage in the people's eyes were fueled by the president, the commander in chief, the leader of the nation. A democratic election. A fair democratic election. Staring at the violent and wild mob of Americans, I was appalled. "Freedom Fighters." That's what they were being called. Charging toward the Capitol Building, climbing on the ledges, smashing in the windows, sifting through desk drawers. These people were American traitors, not patriots, or protestors or freedom fighters. This was not America. Or was it? Was this just what we needed to expose the injustices and hypocrisy of America? Was threatening our deeply rooted democracy finally enough to open people's eyes?

I am older now and I do not want to just live confused, upset, or perturbed. I do not want to just be perplexed, stunned, and indignant. I do not want to let those intense, fiery sensations shackle me. Instead of watching the world in disgust, I will speak my mind. Instead of solely asking questions, I will seek solutions to the problems that once, and will always, infuriate me. Why? Tradition is not always the right answer. Just like a child who asks a million, observational questions, I can ask them too. I will voice my opinions. Ever since I was a child, I observed what was wrong and what was right. I will not sit and watch, but rise with the passions I possess. I will live like a child: thinking, believing, and doing all things with an open heart and an open mind.