The Language of Love
PART III | ya’aburnee
He buried me.
I was six feet too deep into my love for him, unable to receive any nourishment to flourish.
Nevertheless, he was enough for me, crimson roses blooming where I lay in the ground.
He was my everything.
He was the sunlight that warmed me, his smile enough to accelerate my pounding heart and
flood heat onto my cheeks.
He was the water from a drizzle of rain, his slippery whispers of sweet nothings on my skin
washing away the impurities from my day.
He was the rainbow after the storm, his very presence coloring my day yellow so that there was
never a cold blue again.
And I was the rose, picked delicately from the ground and in the hand of a girl ready to confess
I was that girl.
I ran and ran and ran down the bustling night market streets, passing by arguing adults too
consumed in their own world and neon signs lighting my way to him.
When I arrived at the restaurant his family owned, with only a few stragglers lingering at the
tables, he was humming to himself behind the counter.
I slammed my hands down, my eyes connecting with his pyrite ones as he looked up, startled.
“I love you.”
I let the words ring in the air as my mind whispered the ones I didn’t dare say.
Read more of “The Language of Love” in the print edition of Issue 153.
Ryan H. Smith's Commentary
The first time I finished reading “The Language of Love,” I knew we had a winner. The author walks us through the stages of young love—the infatuation, the euphoria, the delusion, the heartache, and the acceptance of it all. By applying the wisdom of six languages to discuss adolescent amazement and growing pains, this writer displays all the promise she possesses moving forward. Furthermore, she has developed her own system of categorization for grief, which gives us a source-glimpse into what a budding romance feels like when you’re trying to navigate these new emotional peaks and valleys. Reading this piece, you forget about social media and texting, and remember what it was like to write in your journal or pass a note in class. For a moment, you’re taken back to when your first crush made anything seem possible.
in conversation with
Ryan H. Smith
Who are your biggest poetic influences?
My biggest poetic influence is an online writer named Ingri Dahi. She’s a medical student who writes stories and posts them on an online platform. Before her works, I had never read something with such amazing depth and detail. She connects large abstract ideas like gods and goddesses, nature, and the universe, and weaves them into her stories in such an intricate way that leaves the reader feeling overwhelmed (in a good way). The second biggest influence would have to be a Korean drama named Extraordinary You. The cinematography techniques in it were ineffable; I simply can’t use words to describe it. Even so, I aim to make my words imitate the way it made me feel when watching it, so my readers can experience something similar. Although these two influences seem extremely random, I really appreciate them, as they are what shaped my writing abilities.
What’s your scariest experience, so far, as a young writer?
Putting myself out there has definitely been the most frightening experience for me. Before this contest, I had put my stories on an online platform, and it completely failed. No one read it. This experience made me feel extremely unmotivated. I wondered if my writing was really that repulsive that it scared away all my potential readers. It wasn’t until my English teacher, Ms. Tinoco, recommended this contest to me that I realized I had the potential to be a great writer. With the deadline approaching, I threw all qualms about failing out the window, and threw myself into writing a love story (which was a completely spontaneous decision, by the way, as I am a fifteen-year-old high schooler who has had no experience in love whatsoever). Even though going out of my comfort zone was my scariest experience, it was by far the most rewarding one as well, and I would like to thank Ms. Tinoco for being the person to support me in this journey. I want to thank my friend Nidhi Deshmukh as well, as she was the one who edited and encouraged me during the new process.
How did you first come to learn about the “untranslatable” phrases in your poem?
The phrases are all over Pinterest, so it was very easy for my twelve-year-old self, who was keen on scrolling through the app from day to night, to run into them. Something about the mystery that shrouded the meaning of the words lured me in, the way that I would never be able to fully understand them. After spontaneously deciding to write a love story, I realized that, like the phrases, love and emotions can never be fully understood. The two made a perfect combination, and after that, I searched high and low through the internet to find the perfect words to convey the meaning of my poems.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Show, not tell. This is one of the most common pieces of advice given in writing, but it has been the most impactful for me. After reading Ingri’s work, I realized that the feeling it gave me could never be simply told to me. To give my readers that feeling, I needed to spin my words into an intricately woven web that portrayed the feeling I wanted to convey. To do that, I would need to attach large concepts to my writing by using specifically chosen words. An example would be, if I want to make my readers feel that something is large and indescribable, my go-to would be the sky or space. Instead of saying “the stars twinkled,” I would use phrases such as “swirls of crystalline stars and dashes of pearl powder,” using specific words that harmonize well together to create a melody of words.
Professionally, what are your goals?
I honestly have no idea. As a high schooler, it’s a question I get a lot, but I never know the answer to. And I don’t feel like I need to know the answer to it, not yet at least. Writing is something that I thoroughly enjoy, but I haven’t explored it enough yet. In fact, I haven’t explored a lot of things, so I have yet to discover the one thing that I want to dedicate my life’s work to. Hopefully I will one day, but that day hasn’t come yet.