I Am The Whole World

I am the whole world

and mostly I just need to know


and in what ways

From where does my accent come

or even my non-accent

and more importantly: in what ways can I change it

What are the patterns I can weave into my own voice

How might I paint a river through my face

to where would that river go.

I remember being so angry

—a strange and invisible kind of anger

that I didn’t even see

until a few years later

(and even then I didn’t know to give it a name)—

angry at a woman sitting at a bus stop one twilight morning

who offered me into her home

She saw in my eyes

maybe some part of my grandfather

She asked if I was filipino

and on that knowledge alone

wanted to cook for me

something tremendously delicious

that I declined.

I am a child walking through a vast and fog-strewn field of winter flowers

Each of them has learned to flourish 

by whatever means necessary,

all of them with decidedly different answer

to the question asked of us all:

how will you survive today

and in what ways might you make that survival


I have walked through this field with my jaw wrenched shut and my fists clenched tight

I try not to so much any more

Today, with my fingers stretched out

I hope that some small petals 

might climb into my palms

and stay for awhile

Kyle Studstill