Self of Steam

A student once wrote that she had 

“Low self-of-steam.” 

Even as I circled it in red 

and wrote the right words 

I felt like correcting it was wrong, 

and a vision emerged. 

I see this self-of-steam 

as a different version of her 

and her words not a mistake 

but a revelation. 

She is describing herself, amorphous, 

a vapor caught between window panes. 

Here, her steam is billowing out thin, 

hiding and revealing what is around her and within. 

There, swirling to thickness 

protecting the parts of her 

too wrong, too tender, too strange,  

to be revealed. 

Like steam, like hours, like days 

this self would be ever fading, burning away; 

to be revealed again on cool mornings, 

mist in the valley, 

sun hinted orange in clouds before its rise. 

Her self reforming,  

trying again to make something 

that is lasting, that is real, that can say: 

This is me. 

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