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YOU CAN'T HAVE IT ALLMiddle School PoetryIn this poetry pastiche, seventh-graders use the opening lines of Barbara Ras’s poem titled “You Can’t Have It All” to look for the silver lining in everyday life in Hong Kong, especially during the pandemic. We aim to practice what writers (and artists) have always done in challenging times: Use emotive, figurative language to mine the minutiae for meaning.
As Picasso once said, “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
Ms. Weda Bory English Language Arts TeacherYOU CAN’T HAVE IT ALL
by Meghan Zee
But you can have the excitement of zooming through a mind-blowing murder mystery. You can have the touch of your five-year-old terrier’s coarse hair, the color of rough sand. You can have love, though often it will be heartbreaking, like a kitten being pulled away from its mother. You can have the life of the mind, a light bulb radiating with out-of-the-world ideas. You can speak with your best friend through expressions and quizzical actions, knowing that she comprehends the cryptic code. You can visit your old home where you sprouted into the person you are now, the place filled with memories beyond what you can reminisce. And you can be grateful for your family, for your father, who tries to take selfies with you wherever you go. And for your mother, who gardened you from birth, just snipping and spinning away. You can have the dream of waking up to a world of peace, a place of rainbows and Reese's peanut butter cups melting in your mouth. You can’t count on flying around the world, but you can meet up with friends to fill up on unlimited fries and the yummiest, tender steak at La Vache.
And when adulthood fails you, you can still summon the memory of walking through the deep night, conversing about the world’s secrets with your mother. There is the voice you can still summon at will, like your mother’s, it will always whisper, you can’t have it all, but there is this. Student art by Will Gotten '22YOU CAN’T HAVE IT ALL
by Nina Merhy
But you can have the shriek of your brother on Easter morning, the rustling as he searches high and low with gluttonous eyes. You can have the slippery, sloppy kiss from your dog, beckoning you to run at breakneck speed.
You can have the whirl of the washing machine while you wait behind the kitchen door to scare your mom, her face going white. You can have love, though often it will be intriguing, a knot in your hair that can’t seem to untangle.
You can have the life of the mind, a perplexing math problem you can’t solve, the marvelously magical world of a book, the never-ending cycle of Zoom classes, to in-person, and back to Zoom. And you can be grateful for soccer, the way it fires up your family, for the tantalizing smell of tulips that your mother loves, grateful for the ambrosial taste of apple crumble, as flaky on your tongue as fresh croissants from Stan Cafe, and for deeper thirsts, for the swish of snow against your shiny skis, the love felt in a gaze from your grandma.
You can’t count on sunshine to get you through a cloudy day, month, or, in our case, 2 ½ years. But here is your father teaching you how to ride a bike like you're going to the Olympics, and here are dandelions blowing in the wind, reminding you of the hushed late-night conversations with your friends.
And when adulthood fails you, you can still summon the memory of the goodbye party your friends and family threw for you when you came to Hong Kong, the city that would end up shaping you into the person you are today. There is the voice you can still summon at will, like your mother’s, it will always whisper, you can’t have it all, but there is this. Middle School poets: Meghan Zee, Nina Merhy, and Tristan WangYOU CAN’T HAVE IT ALL
by Tristan Wang But you can have WiFi good enough for a voice call with your friends while playing Minecraft and Roblox. You can have the touch of a computer key reminding you that it’s always awake, awaiting.
You can have the reassurance that you can go back to school, that it will be fine until the end of May, and then, you can have June, July, August, and half of September free to make as many cooking videos as you want.
You can have the life of the mind, the steady hum of the computer overheating when you are playing videogames, the sight of our school reopening on SCMP filling you up with pride that you go there.
And you can be grateful for the internet, for the way it gives you all the information you want, like inserting a knowledge chip into your brain, for friends who protect you from bullies reinforcing your mental wellness like steel bars reinforcing the barrier of a building. You can’t count on bravery to throw you over Mount Everest, or to win America’s Got Talent, as you watch the judges slowly slam the golden buzzer, but here is middle school to teach you math and science, to teach you social studies so you can succeed later in life. And here is language arts where you can proudly say “I’m a poet and I know it.” And when adulthood fails you, you can still summon the memory of Vancouver with your sister laughing, as fiery orange maple leaves slowly drift, like paper does, down towards our heads. There is the voice you can still summon at will, like your mother’s, it will always whisper, you can’t have it all, but there is this.