"Found On The Backside Of A Heart" By Kayli Wren

Behind closed eyelids,

my mind flickers like the screen of a 1930s short


or the white sparks that fly and die

on cold cement beside colliding automobiles,

thoughts flitting like a lone monarch butterfly

moments before dark

black tipped wings against a red sunset  


Further back,

in the recesses of my mind,

the odd thought lies, crumpled up,

thrown in a corner next to the wire wastebasket it missed


Thoughts disappear when I blink

or turn my head

as someone calls my name,

“Little girl”


I’ve been taught not to look too closely,

to leave thoughts by the roadside, and

shut them in drawers if they don’t match the world’s outline


I was always afraid of losing the wrong thought:

Surely, the roll of film would get scratched,

the spark would hit the ground too soon,

night would arrive before the butterfly had a chance to spread its wings

and I would find myself missing the thought already gone


So I gave my thoughts to someone else,

said I would come back for them later,

hold them in my palms again

when I was ready


My someone developed them

like the best kinds of photographs,

the ones that have to be dipped in solution

and hung up with clothespins to dry

in dark rooms that smell of stories waking up

Image Designed By Chloe Glass

Image Designed By Chloe Glass

My someone taught me not to crumple them,

not to blink or turn my head so they could fade away

I write them out now, on

snowy paper

insides of palms

backsides of hearts

I scribble them along fence posts and cracks in the sidewalk,

fill the lines of mortar between bricks,

whisper them to passing butterflies

and the voice of Someone on the other side of the phone at night

I throw my arms to the sides and

shout them out to skyscrapers and windmills and passing airplanes


I’m older now,

and not all my thoughts have made it through


Sparks have died on pavement and not every sunset has its own butterfly

There are some thoughts crumpled beside waste baskets

but there are more taped on kitchen walls


I have seen people take axes and pitchforks

and scrape away at other people’s thoughts,

watched them throw their own into chasms of distrust and averted eyes

but I’ve also watched children play,

seen them whisper to butterflies at dusk

and found it was enough

Kayli Wren is a writer from Charlottesville, Virginia.

"Words are not perfect. They are flawed, misspoken, and sometimes clumsy, just like real people. But I write to capture the snapshots of our lives, to expose the nuances of life and reveal the cosmos compiled therein. I write to accept, reject and make sense of our world. I write to be brave, to be open, to be honest. I write to show someone that they are not alone. I write to try to make people think. I write to acknowledge rawness and pain and beauty, to appreciate every element, scarred and fragile, of our existence.

I've previously been published in Teen Ink, Literary Orphans Tupelo Press Teen Writing Center's Crossroad's IV, and the Kenyon Review Young Writers Anthology."

On Her Work:

"I hope that when people read my work, they will feel something visceral and real, of lingering and tenderness, anger and joy, panic and peace. I hope that they will feel any and all of the emotions that make us feel alive."