The view from the edge of seventeen


Jessie Warren

A frog statue that has rested on my back patio for as long as I can remember.

When I was still a child,

My backyard was the noise that I could introduce to it.


It was the trampoline with leg-sized holes and a two-person capacity limit that we nearly always broke.


It was the two discordantly tethered swings that squeaked with each push,

Or the pink Power Ranger walkie-talkie that buzzed with greetings from next door.


It was the fairies bouncing along on the backs of frogs and the distant yet discernable whistling of the wind—

Two things I would’ve sworn to be fact and not fiction.


Yet, most of all, it was the way that my voice contributed to it all.

Even when birds were chirping, swings were whirling, and trampolines were being pranced upon,

My backyard always made room for whatever I had to say.


Not only did it make room, but it learned to understand.


To understand why my sun-bleached and stringy blonde hair wanted nothing more than to be swept up in the summertime breeze.

To understand why I talked to the wind and foretold that it talked back.

To understand why I sit here now,

On the edge of seventeen,

One shoulder within the basking sunshine and one without.


It doesn’t ask questions but instead understands that all I need is proof.

Proof that I accomplished all I could with the hand that I was given.

Proof that maybe sixteen wasn’t so hollow as time has made it appear.


And then it gives.

It shows me in the white flowers that are suddenly kissed by zephyr and incandescence and the birds that kept singing, even after this inconvenient circle around the sun.

It becomes the one who can’t stop moving,

Letting me be the one to fall silent.


And even after it gives,

And it gives,

And it gives,

It never demands an answer as to why tears well up in my eyes.

It already knows.


As I stare over the cliff of adulthood,

My backyard no longer needs my voice to thrive.

It is the one place where sacrosanct sunshine is still bountiful.

I can go there anytime silence feels like the only answer, and I can let the blooming trees and bumbling bees do all the talking.


And while it no longer needs me, I can recognize that it will always want me.

That is proof enough.