The poem, “tiger, what it means to leave behind” by Jaden Crowder is a beautiful work, and one of my favorite pieces in the Spring Edition. It expands on the pains of growing and the bitterness of nostalgia, opening up on the heartache of faded friendships and lost innocence. The way it begins is playful – opening with a rhyme scheme most of us can relate to some of our most favorite lullabies from childhood. For me, this poem brought out a feeling that buried itself a long time ago – when the sun was something new on my skin, and the color green made my eyes smile. In many ways, this poem reminded me of my own lost childhood – having once thrived with pride like a cub, I am now older and as fierce as the world wants me to be. There is no time to play – we can only remember and continue to remember.
I, too, had a friend like the poem describes. She was as blonde as our pinky-swears and as playful as any kid could be. I remember her smiles in the car when we sat in the backseat while our parents drove, racing to be in the front seat when we were older, riding scooters in the parking lot, and making soap potions in the bathroom. Yet, I just barely remember the last time I saw her – we were 13, I think. I believe we were by the pool. I think the sun still felt warm as it went behind buildings, the shadows resting comfortably on our forms like they were our own. The conversation was nothing special – it certainly didn’t feel like the last. We probably said ‘goodbye’ when it got too late, something like: ‘see you next weekend!’ rolling off our tongues as though they budded with longing right then and there.
No, I don’t think she left because she disliked me. I don’t think she dislikes me now, even when she doesn’t respond to her birthday texts. It was a simple, ‘no, you can’t see her anymore’ from her mom that ended our friendship.
Sometimes I think about her – usually it’s late and the world has exhausted me of any other thought to do with the present. It’s when I want to live in the past, lying in my dark bed with the moon outside my window which, I know, was the same moon then; the one that peaked over us at the pool. I think: ‘what is she like now? what is she doing?’ I think about how much of a sister she was to me, and I wonder if it was ever the same for her. Then I ask god what life would be now if she stayed.
Does she not remember the days when we were small, dancing around the pool as sailors, mermaids, spies, and adventurers, just kids up to our tiger games, hoping the world was as big as our dreams and hearts? Leaving her behind; what that meant for me involved fabricating a wall around our memories to give the illusion there weren’t games to begin with.
Admittedly, I think of her on these nights, but I don’t want to know if she thinks of me; I just pull the moon close and let my eyes flutter their lids, pressing my cheek to the pillow.
This edition has many pieces that speak to me – pieces from teens who convey their own turmoil and passions through art. I opened up about two that had a very special impact on me.
Art as a whole is meant to connect us to each other and ourselves, and I think it is wonderful that Élan grants young artists the opportunity to give that experience to the world. These works are from teens, but that does not take away their impact; Élan proves how crucial it is to allow the voices of growing artists to be heard. To me, as both a student and artist, that is such a beautiful thing. As this Spring Edition impacted me, it can also leave something with you.
– Reece Braswell, Senior Art Editor