I write trite things because I am tired.

I write origami because the world is a hard web to untangle.

I write folded up messages that look like cranes because I am equal parts curious and fearful of knowing myself.

I write toupees because I am blank.

I write soap because I am worth saving, over and over again.

I write “There will be hell to pay” on a protest sign, which is just copying someone else’s protest sign, because I am someone who has an undercurrent of jittery anxiety coursing through everything I do.

I write messages in bottles because I am in need of slowing down.

I write in my head while opening my gym locker because the world is not just a collection of places on a map, but a community of us, intersecting and coinciding without even thinking about it.

I write to find the right combination because I am full of questions I am still learning to ask.

I write the Polish accordion player in the west entrance to city hall, Paweé (?), who gave me his picture, which I started to fold to put into my back pocket. “Don’t do that!” he shouted. “I gave it to you to put on your refrigerator.” So I did, because the world is not as fucked up as we fool ourselves into believing.

Alina MacNeal

ALINA MACNEAL’s grandmother taught her to read children’s poems when she was four and she fell in love with words. That was in Polish, in Warsaw, where she was born. When she was nine her family came to St. Louis and she had to learn to read English, which doesn’t rhyme nearly as well. She’s lived in Philadelphia for 35 years.