Tightrope

By Sophia Soloway, age 14
Tightrope Sophia Soloway is fourteen years old and goes to Walter Panas High School. She’s grown up at Writopia, and is celebrating her fifth year taking classes here.

“Or perhaps I would stroll across a fire.
I could watch the destruction
and the beauty,
without letting anything reach me”

   

If I could balance on a tightrope,

if my bare toes could grip the sides of the string,

I’d walk over a rain forest.

 

I used to imagine that the water in these places

couldn’t even reach the ground

because of how close together the leaves are.

 

I could stand there, the rain

–– usually so strong ––

not even mighty enough

to penetrate the green,

or knock me off my rope.

 

Maybe I would hear the birds singing

over the loud thunder,

or maybe it would be silent.

 

Except for the patter of the rain against the leaves,

still trying to reach the ground.

 

Or perhaps I would stroll across a fire.

I could watch the destruction

and the beauty,

without letting anything reach me,

especially the smoke.

 

I would be so high up,

my legs stiff and light.

The blaze of the flames might dance

and make shadows on my cheeks,

but it wouldn’t burn my eyes.

 

I could stare until the embers died away,

and I had to find my next destination.

 

If I could balance on a tightrope,

I might walk,

overlooking all the people I’d put in front of me.

 

Then I could say I was simply above them.

Over them.

Then I’d be even,

balanced.

 

I would walk over my house.

I would look through the chimney,

and watch my family talk without me.

 

Sometimes,

I like to listen to them speak

and drown in their sentences,

without saying a word.

 

Sometimes,

I hide out,

just like when I was little

and wanted someone to find me.

 

Or, perhaps,

I would walk through a valley of stars.

I’d look at the moon,

and try to tell Frank Sinatra that no kiss could ever compare

to the white rock spinning before me.

 

My best friend and

I like to talk about the universe

late at night.

 

Our legs and minds

entangled with

bodies and fears,

 

shaky voices asking questions

we know can’t be answered.

 

If I went further into the open,

I could go back and tell her that

the infinity we were so afraid of

could envelop a person,  

 

and maybe it wouldn’t feel so far away

from home.

 

If I could balance on a tightrope,

I would take a rest over a mountain-

 

I would be tired from all the adventures

I’ve already planned.

 

Maybe I’d let my feet hang off the side.

 

Maybe I’d try to touch the peak,

the lightly-oxygenated winds

making me feel dizzy.

 

I’d watch as the climbers struggled

to find the top,

maybe find something else.

 

I would giggle,

trying to whisper to them

to merely find a tightrope.

 

My words would be drowned out,

though,

by the swinging winds.

 

But my inner-ears

have always been

a little bit off.

 

I’m not the most stable.

 

Sometimes,

I trip.

 

And although I’ve never

been afraid of heights,

 

I can’t see myself

balancing

on a tightrope.

 

No matter how much

  I would like to explore

 

with a bird’s eye view.

 

So, I guess I’m stuck here,

my feet on the earth.

 

Maybe it’ll keep me humble.

 

Grounded.

 

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