Nov 8 · 34
Stabbing
Grace Alford Nov 8

They said when I go to college
My bubble will burst

At first, I didn't believe them
The parties and the alcohol were always out of site
The gangs and drugs too far for me to smell

Then one day it burst
I didn't feel it, like I thought
I thought, it would feel like cannonballing into a freezing pool
On the first day of summer

It was silent
Still
Like the moment after an inhale
Or a scream

After a student cries out
There's an active shooter
I didn't feel him knocking on my door to let him in
Instead, he crept around, found the hole in the fence

In that instant, my fragile walls
After years of carefully building
Crumble

The stranger sitting next to me
Now my brother, sister, in my home
Their faces of shock forever etched in my brain

The school is in lockdown
The blue bubbles of worries sent into space
Hoping something other than bad news will return
I could hear all the prayers being sent to heaven

I was sitting in the back row
Of the largest lecture hall on campus
I do not know if this killer wants to go out with a bang
If he did, this would be his target

Filled with eager, or bored, biology students
I never got this manuel
I do not know how to protect myself from a  machine gun

The mass of officials reporting words that used to feel foreign
They would never enter my world
But here they are, next to my forgotten socks
And broken promises
Shooter. Gun. Death. Blood. Knives.
Unsafe.
Unsafe.
Unsafe.

My brother is still asleep
Across the country
Full of turkey and thanks
Never of shock or horror

Once the news comes out, that it was
Just a car hitting people
Just a knife stabbing
Just injuries
Just hospital visits
Just one death
Just the culprit

Why do I feel relief
When my classmates were hurt
Yet I am releasing my breath
Somehow a car running over students
A knife stabbing friends
Was a relief to me
Because these deeds done by a monster
Are less than a gunnman
Why

If he had waited
Got stuck in a traffic light
Two minutes more
It would have been me

Every day I count my blessings
My bubble is still healing
It will reopen again soon
The memories will always be fresh

It is days like these that I am reminded of why
On that day back then
I was so scared to be in one of my favorite places
A school should never be a memorial

I wish I could reach through my LED screen
Tell the victims
I know
I know
I feel your feelings
I recognize those silent prayers
I too, have sent them myself
I too, will never forget the fear

I know this day will forever haunt you
It's pain will never cease
I hope I can help you rebuild your bubble
To make you a little more full

This is a response to the Las Vegas shooting. I was a student at Ohio State when a terrorist ran over students and stabbed them.
Oct 12 · 190
Pulling
Grace Alford Oct 12

Today is the day
National mental health day
One of the many days I regret

I should speak out
I want to
But my mental illness has me chained
So instead I pull
Pull my way closer
But the chains keep me back

Closer to the truth
Closer to the hesitation

For me, pulling is my release
I read online that the rough ones-
With black bulbs were bad ones
The “wicked witch” ones
So I started

Pulling out my fears,
Doubts,
Insecurities
From my head- one by one

Until I laid there helpless
In a cloud of my mistakes
Somehow seeing all my worries in front of me didn’t make them go away

Instead, I became more aware
More aware of my failures
For the unknown future that lies in store
One by one

October 23, 2016
I kept the receipts
A friend- not a close one, more of those friends of friends
She chose me to tell her story to
She was raped
By a guy we all knew and trusted
A “good guy”
I lent her an ear, or rather a willing text
I thanked her for her bravery
For allowing me to be a small fraction of her story of overcoming
I might be one of twenty she told, or maybe just two

I don’t know. I may never know.
But what she may not know is that night
She became my one
Someone I knew almost nothing about
I told her my story and asked how she told her first

I hoped of getting some of her strength through some sort of Twitter DM telepathy
Alas you can’t gift strength like that
Oh God, I wish you could
I go back and read those messages all the time trying

I read my TimeHop every day
Sometimes for the memories
But more often than not they bring back the nightmares
I do it for the relief
The streak number tick ticking higher
Counting the days that have gone by
Or the hairs I’ve pulled

Tomorrow is National Coming Out Day
Is there a day like this for those who came out to their loved ones about their mental illness?
I will also not be participating.
My mental illness is keeping me from doing so
I am buried deep in my closet, hiding under clothes and forgotten tags
My fingers raking through the carpet
Finding that momentary release
The glorious relief lasting a moment
I run my fingers through the rough fibers searching for more

My family doesn’t know
Or if they do, they don’t want to break our perfect mold
I pull discretely
Around my head, just a receding hairline, no bald patches
Yet

I never get my haircut
At least, by a professional
The last time I went, my stylist said it was new growth
Not my past coming to haunt me.
She pulls at them showing me, calling them baby hairs
How do I tell her that each one represents shame, frustration, guilt
Each one represents one party, one good time with friends I’ve missed
Hiding behind those fears, covered in guilt
Back in my closeted mind

Sometimes, I wonder what would happen if I cut myself open
Would blood run out or the words I meant to say?
When it’s a bad day, I pull at large sections of my hair
Wondering what it would be like to rip it all out in two sections
It makes me cry in pain, but the voices tell me about the sweet relief it may bring
I almost give in

What hurts me the most is noticing the people around me who have it
Does the girl sitting in front of me know
One day she may have to get surgery
To remove the hairball in her stomach from eating at her hair?
I see her run it through her lips, feeling the same texture.

Does the boy, scratching away at his knuckles
Understand what’s underneath his skin?
I wonder what his blood would say
Would it tell my story?
Would it tell ours?

*trigger warning*
May 2014 · 470
Love
Grace Alford May 2014

You tell me about the bruise you got today
How even though you carefully avoided him
His pleading words started nipping at your toes
Like a new puppy
At first it sounds like a good idea but once you take that little bundle of joy  home it will turn into the Tasmanian devil and destroys everything in its path
But you wouldn't know
On the outside you love dogs
But deep down inside you're afraid
You've told me
The tears swimming in your eyes
Threatening at any second to defy you

You are not perfect
We are all made of deformities
Of awkward angles
Puzzle pieces
So that one day we can find our match

Love is a battlefield
Full of scars and bruises
The blue turning into a deep purple before it can get better
It's so hard to not step on the land mines of emotion
The booby traps of hatred
But you have a shield
A bullet proof vest that will block you from those fears
But it can only withstand so much

Apr 2014 · 7.1k
Compliments
Grace Alford Apr 2014

When you tried to give me a compliment I always turn the cheek
Batting it away like it doesn't belong to me

That my hair is too frizzy for you to like it
My eyes too blue for your brown

My legs are elegant but they are marked with my disappointment
The purple and the blue will never go away
Yes, the bruises will slowly heal but by the time one problem is resolved another sapling and will slowly take root and show it's colors

You say my heart is made to heal
But I can't find it
It's buried so deep I can't hear it keeping time to my life song
It's crushed under all my self downs and worries
In that hollow it grows
Like a new bud
And one day it will turn into a flower

My response to your comment is lost on my tongue
It is somewhere tucked inside my conscience
Playing hide and seek with the directions on how to talk to boys and how to give an oral report without turning red
And I'm the seeker

You tell me I'm beautiful
But I can't hear you
The voices taunting me inside my head are too loud for your soft voice
Arguing about which way right
When I find my answer it seems as if the time has already left

You are already heading off in the other direction
Leaving me stumbling over my daydreams and expectations
Trying to get a grasp on what's ethical

I always forget to say thank you
It's sort of a bad habit
I'm always too worried about what will happen if I say something wrong
If I'll turn you away

I want you to know that I want you to stay
Stay close and hug me when I need it
So I can help you through your hardships
And carry each other's hopes and dreams upon our shoulders

You will be the soldier of my heart
Guarding the gates for all of the knights in shining armor that aren't noble enough to be my Prince Charming

Sorry I know it's not complete. It's a work in progress and I would like some feedback. Thanks!
Apr 2014 · 1.5k
Obstacles
Grace Alford Apr 2014

You my friend love to run more than anyone I know
You run so fast your body has to catch up and when it can't it slows you down pulling a hamstring
Then the other
And then your left one again

You had bruises for months trailing up and down your legs-your battle wounds

Weeks upon weeks of stretching
Icing massaging caring bracing eating
Trying so hard to sooth the pain
So bad it hurt to sit
Slowly but surely your legs came back
A tedious process of long nights and good mornings

One day you were new again
In the sweltering heat you taught  your legs what it felt like to run
And they loved it
The months flew by chasing you down
You were unstoppable getting first and second a states in the winter

Things were looking up and you started to get anxious about college who would choose you?
But in the end, you chose them
You are an official member of OSU
Proud to be a buckeye

Outdoor season started and you are oh so careful
Spending an hour every day before practice to warm up slowly to not repeat last year's trial
Hours spent after practice to ice and stretch hoping that this horrendous day would ever come again

Today I watched you
I was sprinting on the field while you were meticulously counting and calculating your speed and steps by doing drills
Our brothers strides by-racing each other in the 600
You strode along their side-beating them all when you started to limp

Your eyes turned glossy
Your face crumpled in despair
I to you asking if you were ok

You looked at me like a deer in headlights
To scared to tell me-hoping that the devil couldn't possibly come back to haunt you
Your eyes told me everything
Two pops and a pull

Bad
Very bad
But it's your right leg- your good leg
Impossible

The emotions hit you like you were on a bumpy roller coaster
Frustration
Angst
Anger
Sadness
Frustration
Anger
What did you do wrong?
What variables didn't add up?
Why you?
Why?

I wanted so badly to comfort you
To hug you
But it would put you in so much pain
Who knew that a hug could do so much harm?
I helped you to the trainer
Every step was another test and another reminder

Why can something you love so much it hurts you?
Why should someone so good feel the pain of a pulled muscle?
Why?

Apr 2014 · 729
Mother
Grace Alford Apr 2014

I think my mother was more scared of giving me "the talk" than I was

I already knew everything from like third grade and yet in fifth grade she still took me up to my room and proceeded to try to tell me that sperm was like gold fish

No really she did. You can ask her. Actually don't because I'm pretty sure she would kill me

When I started to make friends who weren't from my elementary school she would ask: "Are you sure you want to associate with them? They live in apartments."  

When I embraced my curls I would meticulously pick out my styling products making sure that they were free of chemicals and hatred

I would pace down the African hair isle in the store while my mother was finding the best steal for the tomato paste next door
She would come up to me and whisper "you know you are buying products for Black people's hair, not yours"

My mother grew up in Worthington, Ohio where she learned that people with disabilities are called "retarded" as well as people who are not white, straight, Christians
Where people are fat instead of having fat

My mother doesn't know any better

When i made friends who weren't white, she would automatically assume that my Indian friends were smart, my Asian friends could not pronounce words, and my African friends obviously were stupid and didn't have a chance to get a sufficient education

When I visited the Church of Jesus Christ of Ladder Day Saints my mom made sure for my to promise not to listen to anything they say because why we're not "real Christians"

But Momma what if I want friends who live in appartments

What if I want African hair

What if I want friends with disabilities because they sure are a lot nicer than you

What if I want friends who are from different backgrounds

What I dont want a white husband

What if I want a black husband and adopt Asian children

What if I do want to become a Mormon

What if?

Apr 2014 · 1.2k
Shadow
Grace Alford Apr 2014

If I didn't know any better I think you have fallen in love with me

You always seem to fall in the cracks and disappear in the shade
You are always following me around and tripping on my toes

You track my every movement and see my enemies and fears

You see all of my mistakes, adding them up and waiting until you can prance and take me with you to the firey pits of Hell or the golden white paradise of Heaven

I am never by myself-you're always around
Hiding in the most obvious places and watch every moment of my life pass by without a single comment

You're at home where most people are scared
You are always dark and dreary but in the night you turn light
Cheerful
At the candlelight you bring on a spooky vibe
Showing me your soft edges and your mysterious side

Some days when the sun is just right you get shy
Disappearing behind me
I look for you like a dog chasing his own tail
Always too far out of reach

My family doesn't true me
They always talk to you
The girl I always leave behind

To fill up the room
A soft blanket

Mar 2014 · 801
Grandfather
Grace Alford Mar 2014

You were always soft spoken
Whenever we came over you would sit in your big white chair with a heating pad
Everyone fought for that seat when you weren't in it
It was worn with your worries and woes
The heat taking away all of your aches and pains-at least temporarily

When we went to the lake you would take us fishing
Telling us that it was Canada or Michigan across the glistening waves
Zebra mussels always slicing through our toes making us stronger
But we collected the sea glass because after time someone's trash turned into our green and blue treasures

That mustard brown couch
The smell of scrambled eggs in the mornings when we would leave
The fresh tomato juice staring us down-you could finish a glass in two gulps

I will never meet a man who likes to take baths in the ocean
Who can swim so far without a sip of air

Your hands are rough and callused telling your past
Every bruise and scrape tells of your days fixing odds and ends
Working on the railroad

Your son called you resourceful
But in my mind you are an inventor-an artist
You built your homes with your bare hands
the cracks running along the walls
make it look homemade. Authentic
It matches the cracks of skin along your knuckles that tell the stories of your past

You look at the world through a kaleidoscope
Always finding some sort of positive light in the darkest corners
Always finding something to fix so it's in tip top shape

When the days turned into weeks and years the seasons took the best in you
The twinkle in your eye slowly dulled
And someone took away the spirit of you- my grandfather

The day your heart had too much to bear was my birthday
I came home to a frantic mother
We had piano lessons and the car ride felt like forever

The picture of us sat by my bedside every night until mom took it for you to look at

Your rough hands became smooth
your hair became long
Your cheeks sunk in
You slowly became a different man
But in my heart you were still the same confident soul

That night when you let all of your fears out so you could fly I finally accepted it
I told myself and The Lord that I would be alright without you by my side
Instead you would look down upon me and guide me

It was raining on that December 21st
I woke up to my parents gone and the house quiet

I went on a run
Thankful for the rain because I could cry and comfort myself without people noticing
That was one of the best runs I've ever had
It wasn't just a run--it made me think about life

It's funny that after a death we think about out own lives differently

I had to get my priorities straightened out
What do I want to be remembered for?

A caring mother
Bravery
Kindness
A best friend

Just like you
A fantastic father
Grandfather
Daredevil
Caring
Adventurous

If I die with half of the accomplishments you made, I will die a happy woman

Mar 2014 · 8.5k
Feet
Grace Alford Mar 2014

My feet are disgusting and horrendous
Crooked toes and calluses tell my stories
the pitter patter of them on the kitchen floor, trying to be quit and not wake up my parents in the mornings when I was little
Always wishing they were bigger so I could get new shoes

Years wearing on my feet, scars from running into sharp corners

And yet they still hold me up

smushing them into my skates, getting calluses every week for eight years

running from one place another and are learning why every type of ground feels like between my toes

From the frozen pavement to the searing sand they have been through the harshest conditions

And yet they will never fail me

Mar 2014 · 7.3k
Decisions
Grace Alford Mar 2014

Decisions
Eanie meanie minie mo
one can not decide like so
your past is gone, let it go
eanie meanie minie mo

We think they were childish games to play
yet it tells our future each and every day

Its a 50-50 shot
you could go ether way
But there is no turning back

One step in the wrong direction and you are done for
Because the key was thrown into the ocean that could only open the locked door behind you

Like hot lava
A playground game
If you stumble off the side and landed in that hot firey pit of lava you were done for

That ocean where the key was thrown into has turned into a nasty green
The waves and seaweed churning under the dark stormy sky
This is not a message in a bottle but more of a lost man at sea

Every stepping stone could result in a broken heart
A bruise
A forgotten friend

One wrong decision could cause a prodigy to die

Like Hitler
His Mother almost got an abortion
Her family told her over and over to just go through with the pregnancy
She probably tossed that decision back and forth in her mind
But her family won the match

If she had decided to go against her family I wonder where society would be today

Would there be dozens of Einsteins?
A million Madonnas?
Would there be a cure for all the cancers?
For the common cold?

Every judgement is a puzzle piece
Every step you take back or turn in the unexpected direction is another step towards your fate

Everything matters
If you had gotten one more gallon of milk you wouldn't have run out so you wouldn't have gone to the store and meet your best friend there so you wouldn't be going to that Zumba class

Then you wouldn't have met five of you new best friends and your husband

All of that for a jug of milk

Mar 2014 · 939
Best friend
Grace Alford Mar 2014

It's not until I don't have you around that I realize how much you mean to me

Every day went by wasted telling each other lies.

Trust me, you are not all fine and dandy every day, so you don't have to say that you're doing well if you're not
because I'm probably not fine ether

I really don't like how you kept things to yourself because I don't have a lot to look back on

But I guess that means I cherish every tidbit of your life that you've told me
Every sentence about your past is another puzzle piece you have given me

But I have begun to realize that this puzzle will always have some missing pieces

I used to be part of your future and in that singular moment I was a part of your present, but then I quickly became part of your past

I wanted so badly to become your friend-your partner in crime

You were hesitant, a little on the shy side

But now all we have to do is look at each other to understand each other's thoughts and feelings

I used to hide behind an imaginary shield because I thought there is no way someone like you would be friends with me
But then you slowly peeled away my shell and left me bare for you to take care of and I thank you for that

When you strutted into my life, your poise and properness took me by surprise because there aren't too many people in this society who still say yes mam and no sir to their parents

You taught me that it's not what's on the outside that counts
It's what's buried deep within your  heart that only shows it's true colors every once in a while
Before a race
After a long practice
Or maybe in the middle when all you want to do is laugh

It's these irrelevant moments when your true self shows

You signed onto osu today
I have been secretly wishing for this moment ever since you were applying to colleges
I am now reassured that our relationship won't end when states roll around this season
You promised to come to my meets at osu and I promised to visit whenever I see my sister

Your name means blessed and it fits your personality perfectly
You never take anything for granted

But don't ever be afraid because no matter what happens we will always be cheering you on from behind

I will always be here to cheer you up when you're down

When you leave and have to place to go I will welcome you into my home

I want hold onto your sunshines and save some for later and give them back to you when the rain falls hard
Because I've seen the best of you and the worst of you and I choose both

When we grow old and you are gone and the only memories I can remember are your smiles
I will always keep them in my heart forever

Because it's not until you're gone that I realize how much you mean to me

This poem is about one of my best friends who is leaving for college
Mar 2014 · 1.8k
Sister
Grace Alford Mar 2014

I have been following you around ever since I can remember

Your hand me downs I still wear, even if there are holes and stains, because not even the wash can get rid of your smell

Sometimes, when you seem extra far away, I whisper everything that happened to me throughout the day to my pillow
Just like old times

Whenever I hear something knock  the wall it reminds me of you. Of us and or secret little code

You have taught me many life lessons while I on the other hand give you love advice even though I have never been in a relationship

You're coming home today. A week of blasting Taylor swift before school and a week of story telling. A week of someone on my side

You asked mom if you could take the car but now you have to share it with your favorite siblings. This is what it feels like to share

You try your hardest to pass this year with flying colors but you need to know that if you step out of the phone booth to fly the very people that you want to save are the ones usually standing on your cape

Don't forget to slow down and remember who your family is. No matter what you do in life we will always be here to catch you if you fall

When we were little you never wanted me to play with your friends but I don't think you understood
I just wanted to play with you all the time because you are my idol

I know you are not perfect because nobody is
I just want to follow my dreams just like you did

Mar 2014 · 5.5k
Reflection
Grace Alford Mar 2014

Staring back at me in the mirror
Dry weary eyes and high cheek bones that pair with a long and narrow head that headbands always despise

Skin and bones
Blood and nerves
Blue eyes and glasses
Brown and curly hair

Scars tell the stories of her past
A rock when she was four
Her grandmother's iron when she was six
The rickety banister
The church pews
The sticky track she was fifteen
Anything can leave a scar
Just some scars are more noticeable than others

But it's not just the scars-it's the calluses and bruises
The birth marks and the wrinkles
Her nails that will never stop peeling
Her calluses from bearing the hopes and dreams upon her shoulders
Her bloody noses from a softball or the cold thin air

When she walks you can see her muscles tensing
You can see the bruises on her shins-they're glaring reminders of her past
Her poise is not perfect but neither is her teeth, hair, face, skin
Its her imperfections that make her perfect

Her way of making people smile when they're down
She always finds something to complain about even though she tries so hard not to
Interruption is part of her daily struggle-inside her brain and out
Her work ethic could be a little better but she scrapes by
Her brothers can tell you she despises being late and she can be a bit bossy
The worry lines on her forehead tell you that she's tossing a question around and around her head trying to look at it in all angles before making up her mind

She also cries and wants someone to tell her she is beautiful over and over again
But when she needs to hear it most, her love might forget to tell her

She is always cautious of this-she doesn't want to give herself to someone who will break all of her hopes and dreams inside her heart in one foul swoop
but she tends to daydream about her wedding

What will her dress look like
Who will her bridesmaids be
Who will  her husband be
Who will she dance with
She knows she can't dance and she wonders what her father daughter dance will be like
Will it be like when she was little dancing on his toes?

College is always on her mind and when it isn't, her parents are always reminding her
Ask your sister about the SAT
Memorize your vocab
Don't forget about the AP U.S. history exam
You have to start now
Make sure you read the history textbook
Work harder
You will have to study new material since your teachers aren't adequate
Your math grade needs to go up
Why aren't you studying?
Why didn't you start this over the weekend?
You need to work if you want to get into a good college

When I look at this girl in the mirror and I slowly realize that she is me
I raise my grubby hand to touch my smooth face to double check

Her throat is tight
She can't speak
She can't breathe

I want to tell her that it will be alright
Your friends will stick with you
You will get into your dream college and you will find a husband and live happily ever after

But I can't see the future

I stare at this girl who loves her friends
Who loves to run so fast she forgets to breathe
Who tries so hard to pay attention in class when all she wants to do is scribble poems in the margins of her notes
Who bites her lip when she does something wrong or gets nervous
Who blushes at all the memories when she's gone against the grian

And I want to tell her that she will turn out alright

But I can't

Mar 2014 · 1.9k
Sprinters
Grace Alford Mar 2014

“Oh, you're a sprinter” they say
“you aren't really a runner”

Long distance people don't understand you see
They don't know what a pulling hamstring feels like
They don't know what running with pure adrenaline feels like
They don't know what not being able to breath while running feels like

You see, we sprinters have it down to a science
Practicing starts before the race is key
Pre race rituals are the law
If we don't warm up enough or warm up too much or forget to stretch one muscle
We could be out for the season

Sign in. Warm up some more

They call my race
I pull off my pants and shake out my legs
Double knot my spikes
Finally, my jacket comes off
I step up to the start and set my blocks

My brain becomes so numb with nervousness, the motions become mechanical
Two foot lengths away from the line, first block
Three foot lengths away from the line, second block
Bring my first block up two clicks
My second up three

“Runners, take your marks.”
Tuck jump
Shake out my legs
I tell myself “Remember: low, and drive”
Because there is too much to think about all at once
I lower myself on my knees
Wipe my hands on my spandex
Double check that my shirt is tucked in, my spikes are tied
Shake out my right leg and place it in the block
Shake out my left leg and place it in the block, toes barely touching the ground
Place my hands as close to the line as possible-about two inches to each side of my shoulders
I look down, check my blocks
Look up, at the finish-I will be there in less than a minute
If all goes as planned
I swing my hair so it's on my left side
Head down, look at my hands
Shoulders parallel with my arms and perpendicular to the ground
Just like practice

“Get set”
My heart is pounding
I can’t hear anything
I slowly raise my hips
It takes less than one second to become perfect
Just like practice

BANG

I shoot out of the blocks
Left arm jerks forward and my right thrashes back
I pull my stride in, getting into perfect form
Just like practice

I tune out all of the screams around me
The voices inside my head telling me to slow down
You're running too fast
You're about to pull a muscle
Give up already

But I keep running because I don't care about the voices in my head or the sprinters beside me
I race against time
An irrevocable substance that will always win

I finish the race, maybe not my best, but I did alright for my first meet in a year.
Finally eyeing my time I let go of the breath I have subconsciously been holding
I ran my best and now my lungs are reminded what it's like to taste air

Long distance runners don’t have to worry about any of this
They just have to make sure their toes aren't touching the line
Theres no science involved
If they warm up too long or not enough, it may cost them a few seconds
Seconds are all we have

Ever wonder why long distance runners are so nice to each other and sprinters aren't?
Because before every race we sprinters are too nervous to talk to one another
Everyone is silently praying that the  person next to them won’t toss their cookies
Then again, maybe its better if they did because I might have a better shot at getting first
After the race, I am too stunned-too out of breath to realize what just happened
Or to talk to the person next to me

Sprinters only have a mere couple of seconds to prove themselves
Long distance runners can take their time
They have at least two laps to prove themselves
Sometimes even sixteen

I don’t realize that I love racing
That I love not being able to breathe
Until I cross that finish line
And then I want to do it all over again

Mar 2014 · 2.1k
Grades
Grace Alford Mar 2014

What is the meaning of a letter?
They resemble the severity of the talk
of the shame
of the crying

Or maybe they mean laughter
happiness
hope

What is the meaning of a plus or minus?
a plus or minus can ether mean life or death.

Ink.
You grow up knowing that red automatically means
F

in recent years I learn that its the colors like
yellow
purple
pink
that symbolize the F.

The harsher the mark, the better the grade.

Shouldn’t it be the other way?

Mar 2014 · 422
I knew it was coming
Grace Alford Mar 2014

I knew it was coming
The inevitable slowly crawling up my legs
Always an Elephant in the room whenever I visited
Whispering words of encouragement in your ear
Murmuring “I love you”, it was just for you to hear
I thought, in the Autumn when everything seemed to hit rock bottom
Maybe in the Spring when your cheeks sunk in-while life was supposed to start, of all things
You perked up in the Summer, soaking up the heat just like a flower and became strong again
Alas, we came full circle; Autumn was finally back, bringing your spirits down with the leaves
I knew it was coming

The days became shorter, my hope wearing thin
Visits were becoming a weekly occurrence
My prayers altered
Trying to figure what would be best
Should you let go of your pain or keep on trooping?
I knew it was coming

In the morning, hearing the news
Memories began to play in my mind
Teaching me how to fish. Shock
Showing me how to be brave. Denial
Telling me stories of your past. Numbness
Days before, you told me I was beautiful. Shock
Wearing the locket you gave me. Longing
I knew it was coming

Silence covered the house like a soft blanket
Reflecting on my past with you
Going on a run
remembering the good times and the bad
Where the December rain mixes with my tears
I knew it was coming

The big day
Family coming in the worst way
Meeting your high school partner in crime, your cousins, your neighbors
Learning about your past
Riding a bike backwards
Swimming two and a half laps without taking a breath
Becoming the best father in the world
The best grandfather
Your last words “I’m ready to go.”
I knew it was coming

But I told myself over and over:
Not this year
Not this week
Not today
Not now

But finally, it came

This poem I wrote right after my grandfathers funeral
Mar 2014 · 1.2k
Sprinting
Grace Alford Mar 2014

I try to control every variable
Just like an experiment
Like a mad scientist
If something goes wrong it could cost some blood
A hamstring
My shins

My heart is pounding like a runaway train
Chugging along and always speeding up that it sometimes trips over itself in my chest
Fluttering

I tune out everything except for the official

I set my blocks
I am already trying to catch my breath to calm the butterflies in my stomach
I wipe my hands on my spandex
They're covered in sweat

I let out a shaky breath. Telling myself "You know the drill"

"Ladies stand in your lanes"
I do a couple tuck jumps
Double check my spikes, my hair
I shake out my hands hoping to wipe off the nervousness
But know deep inside my heart that it's the only thing keeping me sane

"On your marks"
A sour taste forms in my mouth
All I can do now is think about my start
Another variable I become the master of
Low and drive
I get on my trembling hands as I slide my feet in the blocks
I inhale-my breath quivering
I peer ahead at the finish line in front of me
It's so close yet oh so far away

"Set"
Is there a word for when all of your potential energy instantly turns into kinetic?
All of your nervousness turning to pure adrenaline?

Is there a word for that split second after the gun goes off?
For what it feels like when my muscles stretch and scream for oxygen?
My mind goes blank
I can't hear any of the yelling or my runaway heartbeat
I don't think about who's beside me

This race isn't about the competitors next to me
It's the clock
That irrevocable tick that means almost everything
That horrendous voice inside my head saying I am too tired
Slow down
My legs weren't made for this
But I know deep down inside that it's my brain trying giving up

I keep running because I don't care about the voices in my head or the sprinters beside me
I race against time
An irrevocable substance that will always win
But I was born to run

Is there a word for when your brain gives up and you are running with pure adrenaline and heart?

Is there a word for running so fast time slows down? You can hear your mothers pleads, your fathers coaching, your friends reassurance as you pass by but it doesn't even process until after you are done

You can feel every millisecond in your toes when you spikes dig into the track

You can feel everything that could have gone wrong but somehow went right and you don't even register it until after

I make it to the finish line in one piece
My muscles are tight and my lungs are trying to catch up with my racing heart
My head is pounding and I don't remember what just happened
But I get a feeling that it was something wonderful
I can't find a word for it

I wish there was because  I would have already said it by now

— The End —