Sophie Szew

Directions to my House

1) I stare at my fingers criss-crossed over
my leopard-print leggings, sitting
in the car, studying the uncreased palms of
a girl who spent most of her childhood
on a white-leather couch
with cheez-itz lurking in the creases,
drinking nesquik chocolate milk.

2) My parents are foreigners.
They can tell better stories
about the ride to school–Mate de leche
lingering in their sinuses, the bomb
infecting the memories of the grave that their
mother was supposed to be buried.

3) I went to school in the states.
I didn’t pay attention to the window
on the drive to school, I just
let my stinging eyes glaze over.

4) We drove a boy to school with us.
He is in the 4th grade and likes legos and planes
but not lego-planes. I think he’s still in the 4th grade.
He’ll go to college with me next year.

5) I made that drive again last
week to go pick up a plastic flag, the
kind where the edges ruffle as you test
how far you can stretch the star in the middle and
oops it can’t stretch out any further than my arms.

[Image of poem by Sophia Szew in shape of rollercoaster with loop on right side. Text of poem follows] Two and a half years ago, I was empty. No food no water no attraction no life. My owners were devastated because Ithey were losing money or perhaps they though they built me well. truth is they did, I just needed some renovations. So in January, they decided to close me and pay contractors and safety inspectors armed with fiery phosphate jackhammers and yellow plastic tubes. But I was so b r OK e n that my owners company-hopped 13 times. Some of the companies dressed their top employees in white coasts dyed crimson from what they said was my new paint job but was really the blood of my old customers. I collapsed when I realized. The companies left last year. They left me full of icecream and cheeseburgers and funnel cakes and water. They expanded me to double my original capacity, and my purples-streaked gates were almost ready to open. I remember March, when my first new customer entered me. Her name was Yaldah, and she was eleven years old. She boarded my park-famous new and improved rollercoaster named Health featuring neural pathway twists neusynaptic inclines, prefrontal cortex drops, neuro seats, and myelin sheath seatbelts. Yaldah was the first new life on Health, and as she fused with the electric tracks, she birthed thought that floated from gray cerebral air to the four-chambered directory at my center: keep me alive.

Sophie Szew is an 18-year-old Jewish-Latina-American from LA who started writing poetry while she was literally on what was supposed to be her deathbed. Now fully recovered from a life threatening eating disorder, she uses her writing as a platform to advocate for social justice. She is an apprentice at BreakBread Magazine U.S. Congressional Intern who has been published in TABC’s Poetry Collection, FEAST, Tipping the Scales’s She Speaks Anthology and The Dillydoun Review among others. When not writing, Sophie spends her time volunteering with unaccompanied, undocumented child immigrants or building up the numerous advocacy organizations she is involved with, including the Youth Latinx Leadership Conference and Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation.