Balance art - photo of a cairn or stack of rocks on a beach
Colton Sturgeon/Unsplash

A Poem

By Emily Whorley

[Emily Whorley is a recent high school graduate from Stafford County, Virginia.]

The idea is balance, right? 
Then show me the balance. 
Show me. 
Show me what evens out all the death. 
All the trauma, 
All the hunger, 
The Fear 
The Pain 
Willful ignorance. 

Tell me, where’s the balance? 
You say “Just be happy” or “Smile.” 
I don’t want to smile. 
I don’t want to “Just be happy.” 
I don’t want the slogans and sayings and empty promises. 
Your “Thoughts and prayers” are not enough 
Your apologies are cheap 
Your speeches are hollow. 

Do not tell us it can be remedied when you don’t listen, 
Or see, 
Not really. 
All that you’ve said will change, hasn’t. 
Not really. 
Not when you move on as soon as it fades from your story 
When people stop posting about it. 

Help me find the balance in a place where our leaders care more about numbers then people. Where students are trying just to 
And you want to talk about their SOL scores? 

Show me the balance in a place where a person can fear for their life because of what they look like 

Or where they’re from 
Or what religion they believe 
Or simply by going to school. 

Where a person can slaughter a nation and 
feel justified. 
Where people die from broken hearts. 
Where people gun down first graders 
Or civilians in a grocery store.
Where people live believing there is nothing
for them 
Because no one’s bothered to show them
otherwise .

I am on my knees 
God, show me 
the balance.