Waiting for People to Make Mistakes by Anya Patel

I don’t remember the practical things, like what my locker combo was and is, but I remember to follow the pawprints on the way down the outdoor stairs. I have to make the block schedule my wallpaper even though it hasn’t changed in years, but I remember which teachers have fun colors of thumbtacks, and which ones have the boring school provided ones. I don’t remember which side of the hallway I’m supposed to go into the library from, but I remember which bathroom has someone’s bucket list in it. I don’t remember not to drink the cafeteria water, to not run my hand under a table top, or how to casually wear a backpack without looking like such a school-kid. 

I do remember which soap dispensers really have soap, which rooms are stuffy, and which are cold. It’s easy to wonder if these memories, or lack of memories are reusable, useful, if they’ve even stayed the same, and I feel like I’m learning slowly, trying to figure out. When I get my locker combo right on the first try, when I know my schedule without checking, and even when I go into the library on the correct side, I feel as if I’ve learned my place, as well as earned it. I smile when I see the freshman and even sophomores making mistakes, like lining up for the bathroom when there is no real line, just crowds of friends who will tell you they’re “waiting,” or maybe even filling their water bottles in the fountain that is always suspiciously warm. I feel like I would never make these mistakes, that there are levels of mistakes and mine are not as important as those. I bet the seniors make more minor mistakes and laugh at me, and double laugh at the freshman.

Anya Patel Class of ’23

Whirlwind of Spices, a poem by Anya Patel

Whirlwind of Spices

A whirlwind of spices

Can make you cough

The powder gets breathed deep into your lungs

It tickles the back of your throat with its wings

A whirlwind of spices

Can make your eyes water and twitch

The particles dissolve on your pupils and make them itch and burn

A whirlwind of spices

Can make you feel nostalgic

your mother is holding your hand as you stir a big pot

A whirlwind of spices

smells like a restaurant explosion in the kitchen

hot and exciting

A whirlwind of spices

Flutters down on your skin

Like someone is blinking on your arm

Someone with spices dissolved on their pupils

For this poem, I had an original draft with the same topic, but I used re-imagining techniques to revise it, and this was one of them. I wanted to make the reader feel like they are at home, and help them really imagine what is going on by using sensory details. I tried to really explain what it would feel like to be in a “whirlwind of spices.” This was really interesting for me to write because as I was writing it, I tried to put myself in the mindset that I was in the middle of it all. Just watching from a safe spot, and thinking and feeling everything, but less dramatically then everyone on the outside.

I used repetition in my poem to remind the reader the setting, to keep bringing them back to that one concrete image that is like a break from all the abstract. I kept thinking about the sensation of spices burning your eyes and nose as I was writing this, and also the feeling of it glittering down on your skin.

-Anya Patel, Class of 2023