What she lacks in answers she makes up for in sad stanzas of poetry


Emma Zawacki

A window overlooking downtown Chicago and the buildings that line Michigan Street

She’s dug her own grave.

And she’s filled it in with gravel, adjectives beginning with “a,” and the slight smell of salt that lingers in the seaside air.

It burns her lungs.

As if the air has morphed into an aquatic form, adding to the weight in her chest, agitating the nerve endings that are layered around her heart—a defense mechanism, but she’s slowly falling victim to herself.

Victim to the 24-hour days that seem too short and nights that feel too long.

But even so, the nights simultaneously feel like short bursts of productivity, gone before she can complete anything.

She’s been told lately not to put all her eggs in one basket, so she’s evenly divided her eggs into two—two baskets, more eggs, even more tears.

The baskets are twine, weaved out of the simplicity that is her past and the complicated present that she finds herself stuck in, weaved by hands that are just as tired as her own. 

They mimic each other—twin baskets, the picture of perfection. A physical idealization of going and staying, living and being alive, suffocating and being free. 

Yet, no matter how she claws at the earth begging for more time, the ground still tries to swallow her whole—erase her from this timeline. 

She has tried to walk the tightrope, but she’s tired of perfection; she wants to feel the sand rush through her fingers, and stain her hands with the salt of the earth if only to remind herself that she is. 

She needs to remind herself that there is more to life than future plans that are only glimpses of days far, far away. That her life won’t end if she makes the wrong choice—there is no wrong choice. 

The baskets are twine, weaved out of the simplicity that is her past and the complicated present that she finds herself stuck in, weaved by hands that are just as tired as her own. ”

There is no wrong choice. 

But she still feels as if there is, feels as if the earth itself is closing in around her, crushing her lungs, making her question all the details she thought she knew about herself—but, maybe she doesn’t know as much as she thought. 

Maybe she should be questioning the words she thought she had definitions for. Maybe she should be reevaluating how much she can handle on her own and how much of her future is really in her control—caught between what she thought being an adult must feel like and the decisions that make her scared to be an adult now.

She’s always been scared of definitives.

She doesn’t like irreversible decisions like down payments and commitments—they terrify her beyond all else.

She’s currently avoiding them altogether.

Avoidance seems to be her healthiest way to emote. The minuscule list also contains chai tea lattes—iced—a promise to herself to drink more water—not happening—and a small collection of books—the romance genre specifically. 

Her only solace is EPs with sunsets as the cover art, mirroring the events outside her childhood bedroom that she’s already written too much about this year, but slowly realizing how much she’ll miss it and its contents—a funeral for her childhood.  

A funeral complete with music that drifts through the speakers of her computer, mourning the things that could’ve been, the plants that live on her window sill, and the grave she’s dug herself.