I will soon be eighteen, but I had always just been a child

When I was standing on my living room couch

Tears blocking the sight of my grandparents

Worries etched into their wrinkles and dark eyes

When the TV played its usual 7:30 cartoon

When snot mixed with spit and trickled down my chin

When I realized I was so young, and they so old

“I don’t want you two to die”

I was six but I was no longer a child.


When I was sitting on that airplane

Legs cramping and my arms fast asleep

Murmurs of other passengers and cries of a baby

When my mother said we would be landing soon

When promises of America finally became a reality

When I remember my grandma’s tears at the airport

“I don’t want to leave, please let me stay.”

I was eight but I was no longer a child.


When I was lying alone on my bed

Eyelids fluttering shut against the lamp’s dim glow

Thoughts sinking down into the gentle pull of sleep

When the dark trembled and my eyes flew wide open

When the fear visited again, as persistent as ever

When I held my breath and my vision slowly cleared

“I’m not afraid of you anymore.”

I was ten but I was no longer a child


When I was crouching beneath my windowsill

Sounds of firecrackers unstopped by the hands against my ears

Shrieks of a woman slicing through the noise

When my mother cursed and told me to stay down

When police sirens lit up the dark ghetto

When I realized there were no holidays today

“Ma, those weren’t firecrackers.”

I was twelve but I was no longer a child.


When I was reclining against a cushioned chair

Coffee cups clinking and laptop keys clacking

Waiters busying about and customers streaming in

When my friends suddenly leaned closer together

When heated gossip and blatant insults masked jealousy

When I suddenly felt tired and just wanted to go home

“Yeah, haha, I also think she’s ugly.”

I was thirteen but I was no longer a child


When I was burrowed deep within my blankets

Eyes squeezing shut and breaths heaving loudly

Pots banging downstairs and customers worriedly shouting

When my mother threatened to kill my uncle

When he ran upstairs with a tear in his white shirt

When I watched him pack up his bags to leave

“It’s okay uncle, I understand.”

I was fourteen but I was no longer a child.


When I was rooted to the ground in fear

Words spat venomously out of a crazed woman’s mouth

Hands hovering around ever so close to hitting my face

When the slap did land, and when one wasn’t enough

When she said my father was right in leaving me

When I was neither sad nor angry, only so afraid

“Ma, people are trying to sleep here.”

I was fifteen but I was no longer a child.


When I was leaning against my bedroom door

Remnants of college talk ringing in my ears

Customers bickering loudly with my mother downstairs

When I couldn’t escape the future at school

When I couldn’t escape the reality at home

When I couldn’t escape the past in my head.

“I want to go back, I just want to go back.”

I was sixteen and I desperately wanted to be a child.


When I was running through the muddy grass

Droplets of a light drizzle falling upon our hair

Laughter interrupted by our panting breaths

When the speaker started playing Ed Sheeran

When our last high school trip was at some campsite

When we realized that we didn’t really mind

“Guys! Don’t forget about the group photo.”

I will soon be eighteen, but I had always just been a child.


This poem is about: 


Additional Resources

Get AI Feedback on your poem

Interested in feedback on your poem? Try our AI Feedback tool.


If You Need Support

If you ever need help or support, we trust CrisisTextline.org for people dealing with depression. Text HOME to 741741