After Ocean Vuong
Lauren, don’t settle.
There were artists who painted
the same subject for years until they got it right.
No one talks about their failures.
Don’t be anxious. Your family is only a family
& you can choose the home
you’ve been born into. Lauren,
stop pretending you can carry more than
your arms can hold. It’s dangerous–like
closing your eyes before you shoot.
Here’s the classroom where you taught hundreds
of students that it’s okay to cry because of literature.
It’s the classroom where you showed them
they can give birth to themselves if they’ll just listen. &
in that moment they all did–from
the belly of Yates’s pages they flung themselves
like high jumpers bypassing their pain, &
just like that, they showed themselves the light.
Don’t worry. You can only control so much. The moon
will take care of the rest: she’ll pull you up
with the waves &
let you fall with the tide. It’ll be natural.
As organic as your first kiss, or maybe your
second or third. But we all learn how to sync
with another’s body if we’re given time.
Don’t settle. Beware of the masks people wear
when they urge you to believe they’re telling
the truth. & don’t doubt yourself. You are light
& you’ll go so far if you’ll just cut your strings.
Lauren, are you listening? The most important
part of your body is its willingness to heal
itself when broken. Here’s a blanket.
It’s the one you buried yourself
beneath when you felt the holes & saw darkness.
Here’s a mirror. It’s the one you thanked
for showing you that beauty
looks like survival. It looks like you.
About the Author:
Lauren Fedorko, M.Ed., is an Adjunct Professor of writing at Rutgers University, teaches AP and Honors high school English, and advises a creative writing club for her students. Her passion for writing is longstanding and ongoing, composed mostly of poetry and creative non-fiction. She enjoys exploring, good company, and traveling the world every chance she gets. Her work has previously been published in the Kelsey Review.