20 Questions

A Better World is Possible, Ernest Volynec

I think what I wonder is

what is your mother tongue?

What words have you forgotten?

Who taught you to answer a question from a friend

like it’s an interview?

Who taught you to guard your whispers 

even when you’re naked and warm and fingers entwined?

Or, where is the child in you?

The thing that David Foster Wallace says

is in us all insatiably wanting, I agree

the child is all of us, wanting, but it isn’t insatiable it

just wants to be held, like any child. Where is that

in you, the vulnerable thing that cries when it

needs something it cannot get, that is not self-conscious?

Do you hold yourself? 

Have you met the fifteen year old you used to be?

Is he okay? Is he still telling you lies about the world?

Is he still terrified, like all teenagers were? 

How many times in the last week have you sat down and

noticed if anywhere in your body hurt or

stretched or taken a minute to rub your forehead?

How many times have you played the same song on repeat?

Why do you save old letters? 

Why don’t you wear the socks from your ex?

And then if you don’t wear them

why haven’t you burned them, where’s your passion?

I think what I want to know is

what are the secrets you’re keeping from yourself?

And is there something in you that responds when you hear

someone else crying in the stall next to you in a bathroom?

Have you ever carried Chapstick in your backpack because your best friend might need it?

Or even

have you gotten yourself water every time you were thirsty, 

have you had enough sleep?

About the Author

Ariana Fletcher-Bai · Trinity University

Ariana Fletcher-Bai is a Human Communication major with minors in Creative Writing and  Studio Art at Trinity University. “20 Questions” first appeared  in the Trinity Review.

About the Artist

Ernest Volynec 

“A Better World is Possible” first appeared in Persephone’s Daughters.

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