Sophie Hilker ’20

For our final installment of Wordplay this semester, The Words is thrilled to present the work of English major Bea Chihak ’20.

A proud Minneapolitan who traveled far and wide across the Twin Cities to get here, Bea is a junior here at Macalester. Majoring in creative writing and history, she believes in creating spaces for community history-telling and resistance. She is passionate about disability justice, and currently works with the organization Cow Tipping Press, which holds creative writing workshops for adults with developmental disabilities and radically rethinks inclusivity in art and in society. This year marks Bea’s tenth year playing euphonium, and she hopes to celebrate by practicing more wholeheartedly. She spends most weekends laughing and crafting with her mom and grandma, who taught her everything she knows about giving a damn.

Please enjoy Bea’s poetry!


instead of a map
an unmap. worn from good use.
unfold it, and feel

land bumble along
unplucked by centipede feet
up-mushed by earthquakes.

feel your fingertip
graze on what we name “scars,” wounds
where all borders broke

one by one unwound.
the unmap’s not “glorious.”
trauma weaves each inch;

healing doesn’t “fix.”
but goes on in citizens
who all came from Space.

stars blink, we too glitch
confident as google maps
on low battery.

our “identities:”
like calling the wind a flag.
the unmap labels,

yes, but celebrates
Rondo, Bde Maka Ska
and Pacha Mama.

the unmap teaches
how to let rivers speak tongues
they were born gushing

and won’t yield to let
national security
build the alphabet.

there aren’t criminal
records in the lost and found
only family

surnames resurface
to breathable air, resting
atop the blank page.

to cartographers
the unmap talks back, questions
their city squiggles

kingdoms to question
marks. the human body is
undecided. Hand:

can you feel old new
heat cold you me and other
borrowed traditions?


The Sun Swingsets

this yell-talk outshines swingset clatters
laughs splatter lavender into the sun’s slow stop
clops as the stick horses graze for a last snack
and the grass wears snowsugar clumps in her hair
the basketball court is losing its four square paint
the old guard chain link fence barrels down
                                                                                   into a resting place

me and eight year old me take two seats
our feet pitter or patter
the moon clinks our eyes like glasses
earth’s magnetic field pulses through our front teeth
                                                                                   teeth are just tenants
we hold a piece of fence to each ear
and until night stitches up the shadows
yell-talking, we almost hear each other


Give a damn.

Maybe curb cuts are the footprints of ancestors who gave a damn.
Invisible like so many of the ingredients
in existence-soup.

Will big bathroom stalls give the little ones
lots of water and sunlight
when we’re not there?

Do you raise your hand to be excused from your dreams
or wait for the bell to ring
buzz flash?

Did they tell you the past few days aren’t stains,
just life? Or are your grades stain-shaped
and brains five paragraphed?

Did we get it in large print—that we can’t create community using competition
or nonviolence using institutionalization
or sexiness using ableism?

Where are the Romp Ramps?
Ramps for cavorting
and mischief.

What are you the sound of?
What are you closed in
or close captioned?