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Unconventional Couples

05/09/11 5:00AM

This week's piece by Juliette Rose Wunrow, a junior at U-32 High School, is a delightful exploration of the endless opposites in school, calculus and history, chemistry and chorus. Wunrow's poem won this year's Smith College Poetry Prize for High School Girls in New England. For more great student writing, go to youngwritersproject.org

My classes go hand-in-hand,
circulating through the school hallways
like unconventional couples.
Pre-calculus is inseparable from US History.
When I allow a math problem
to overwhelm me with its cunning impossibilities
I think of Andrew Jackson:
would he shrink before an equation?
Never! He would challenge every variable to a duel
until they cringed and surrendered the answer.
Chemistry class hooked up with chorus.
Songs are word-electrons orbiting in lip-shaped spheres
around a positive pulsing core, pure and elemental.
French married painting, words coloring canvases
je t'aime red and je ne t'aime pas blue.
And English? It's on-and-off with PE.
Some days, writing is a speed workout,
arduous, drawn-out, unpleasant.
Other days, it's like rock climbing,
searching, cautious, a little afraid.
But most days, it's like the high ropes course.
I dangle in a chasm of nothingness,
alive and acutely aware, harnessed by isolation,
but made breathless by the sensation
of incandescent freedom.

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