Listen to Aman Rahman read his poem:

In my father’s garden ivy claws at the pale-blue shed.
Tomatoes wither—their fruit fallen on the ground, rotting—
as the rope vine grows ever green, the handle now unreachable.

I remember when we painted my bedroom gray. What is now unbearably boring
was a spectacle—metallic sheen, racecar-silver. I remember the artist Agnes Martin
found great solace in boredom—it was provocation, inspiration—her back to us.

They say it is like addiction—I think it is far worse. We fall down staircases each
morning. The heart cannot remember what the heart does—the mirror is no
    longer a
mirror, it is a spectacle. No longer reflection: invention, ascension, loss.

If we leave the ivy be, we think, it will never cease growing. If we cut it, it will
just grow back. If we burn it, we burn the shed too. I remember sitting on the
deck as the paint dried, watching birds flitter from branch to branch.

They say you have to see it in person—that the art, when it stands before you,
commands full attention. She painted the innocence of trees: expression without
explanation, a world without objects, without interruption or obstacle.

When you wake up each morning and count the people you do not know in
the selfie of a person you no longer recognize, it is okay to feel trapped. When you
spend each moment thinking of the moments lost—of missing out, you’ll make it.

Sometimes we wake with our arms caught in the vines and our eyes fixed to the sun
and we wonder to ourselves if it had always been this way, if it had always been our
fault, and we ask for help and scream to be left alone, and the vines tighten and
    we’re stuck.

Every curse has a magic cure. As a child, I’d read sorceresses in myth from
the safety of my bedroom. From my window, I could see the cherry tree and
strawberries. My mother would tell me to go outside—go play, fetch some basil.

These days I feel tied down. I’m the oak tree covered in wires, a cicada reststop,
the spider caught in its own web. The eyes look back at themselves and see only
eyes. What was once fractals becomes merely curves. I turn to—keep turning—

Escape can be remedy, it can heal. It is opening the shed for my bike,
or picking herbs in the garden. It is walking through the woods and realizing
I forgot my headphones. It’s boredom and solace: patience, strength.

And sometimes we wake with our bodies submerged as the earth takes what
    once was,
and roots grasp, and vines grow, and they tighten, help, scream, they tighten, and
you’re stuck, wonder if the sun had always been this red, as they tighten and you’re

One summer we took a trip to my mother’s home—when we returned the ivy
    was gone.
It was art and the exercise of expression. It was blank canvases and nothing to say,
phone turned silent, a summer day wasted. It was our backs to the world.

Read the other prize-winning works from the Sixth Annual “Tell Me a Story” High School Contest:

Triptych” by Sarah Lao
Aubade in the Aftermath” by Elane Kim