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Emily Flamm, Age 12

Emily Flamm’s fiction appears in Catapult, Cosmonauts Avenue, and Crab Orchard Review. This poem, “prairie diamond,” was written in 1994.

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Prairie Diamond

— Emily Flamm, Age 12

Emily Flamm

“I never knew how to smile and I never looked my age. By ten, I looked forty on purpose—I thought teachers were magic and I wanted to be one. We moved that year. I did not understand the laws of the new land, but they were obvious: math made you ugly, clothing should match, and people should match (and be athletes). My English teacher was tall and gentle and had burn scars all over his body—the scalp, the ears, the hands deformed. He loved poetry and feared nothing. Things could get nasty, I thought, but there was a way.”