Youth Voice Writing Contest 2022 — Honorable Mention, Poetry
[Please leave your message after the tone.]
Hey, Self-Care, what’s going on?
Yeah I know it’s been awhile. I won’t ask how you’ve been because we both know. Ehh. But we should get together ASAP and catch up.
You know, I’ve been meaning to ask you. Where were you when I was in that foster home feeling an urgent, visceral sense of not being wanted by anyone? Did you see me?
Where were you when I had no choice but to listen to the judge tell me who my new family was?
I mean, it’s not your fault you were in prison then, just like the man who nearly killed me. At least, I hope he is. Kind of ironic, isn’t it? Do you know his name? Ah. Damn.
Oh shoot, hold on a sec. My work is calling me.
Sorry about that. The world always keeps spinning, huh?
Anyways, it’s still hard to think back to the early years. Sometimes — well, many times— I think of you and wish I had reached out earlier but I know you’ve been tired. Been unemployed for a while. Me not answering your calls. That’s why I’m calling now. I realize… I need you. We need each other.
You ever imagine things? I dream of a world where you and others like you meet your human counterparts in early childhood. You won’t have to wait to be seen and understood and valued. Because us foster kids will finally be heard and get a say in who our family is, what language we want to speak, what safety means to us. My welfare would be our welfare. You know what I mean? Not just the social workers’, not the foster parents’, not bureaucracy.
You would have been invited to join my big family of Papi, aunts and uncles, Mom #2 and Dad #2, the therapist I never had, maybe Mommy, and friends who don’t bully me. I wish you could have met three-year-old me. I’d call me a terrifying yet terrified little alien.
I know you’d see her like a lost little wolf cub and call her to your pack with your siblings, Healing and Gratitude. I wish I had a Mom #2 who didn’t despise you and me being soul sisters.
I know I’ve been kind of rambling so, uh, listen. I want you to come home. Forever. For reals this time. I have a bigger room for you now and I got a new job so we can go back to chatting on those morning workouts or rare nighttime yoga sessions. I bet you’ll be happy to know I still curse a lot during those long stretches.
It’s been a hot minute, though.
So, uhhh. I love you. I mean it. All right, I’m done with the sappy talk. See you tonight?
I’ll never let you go!