Head above Water
Maxwell, Age 12, Peoria, IL
Recently, I’ve realized
That life is a sea of turbulent waves.
We swim across this sea
To reach an end where we can rest.
I’ve seen, I’ve felt,
Those times when you sink
Beneath the water
And all hope,
Through that pang of creeping despair,
You can’t give up.

The sun beats down – a hammer gone mad;
In drying mud, my body was clad.
I was running, teeth clenched tight;
The finish line was in sight.
But pain blossomed everywhere,
And my lungs burned, longing for air.
I wanted to stop, but
I couldn’t give up.
I focused, I sprinted, I crossed the finish.
Doubling over, I smiled:
I didn’t give up.

I stared at the board.
The game’s victor is given
The deciding point.
Silence permeated the air;
My hands ran through my hair.
I was losing, but
I couldn’t give up.
I thought, I moved a piece, I grinned:
The game was saved.
I didn’t give up.

Giving up is a criminal thing.
It ignores the lessons that life brings.
The past is a novel written in ink;
It can be smeared but never erased.
That chance of satisfaction,
Not of winning but of trying,
Is gone forever.

So, clear as crystal
Of the purest kind,
The way across that sea:
Keep your head above the water.
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