They say real girls wear pearls
and polka dot skirts.
They speak in whispers
and seldom make noise.
They walk softly, on tippy toes
Softly, too, in just the right heels
appropriately lady-like and not too high
Their laughter is a bluebird’s trill
subdued, then turned to silence
yet they ache for rhythm, for fire, now hidden
The way he turns down the music.
That, too, is understood
as the abiding truth, an age-old language
of smiles, serene in their deceit.
A fledgling swan readies her wings
seeking her own truth–a captive no more,
her dreams evolve. She feels
the coolness of the wind,
breathes in the distant smoke
of oil dripping on wood
and she imagines
somebody else’s meal,
a loving home, the laughter of the kids
that’s full of joy, cathartic, unabashed,
and there she is–a girl,
wild-haired, barefoot, wide-eyed,
standing in dirt, toeing a dandelion so it bends
away from her intended path.
She feels it then, the ache for could have been
had she been strong;
Or stronger than his touch,
the shelter of his arms, his scent (Drakkar)
and that first taste (of mint and coffee),
her hands electric, him so alive
with barely a graze across soft cotton,
and then the sequence of events
that led to this: a lonely journey home
to help her heal her wounds, the old ones
and the new, the self-inflicted,
yet there is hope, as fragile as the wings
of butterflies they’d torn as kids
in play, thinking of them as lizard tails.
"They will grow back," he’d said,
a stranger at the time, then step-dad,
later, still, a dad.
Years later still, she knew he’d lied
but he had given her that other gift,
the watchfulness of spirits that can sense
a stillness in the movement of the trees,
a stillness in herself….
The dusty window of the darkened train
presents a vision, stark as a goodbye,
an acid-eaten masterpiece of life
lived just out of reach of any who would listen;
any but her, yet she had failed
to break the hold of Mother’s
stinging words. Invisible she'd wished for then,
and so it was, until again a captive,
captivated not so much by skill
but by remembering that pause
that in-between her mother’s happy
and her mother's still. And silent.
“Real girls wear pearls,” her mother’s voice,
scratchy and old
and thirsty for her Gin
Her, thirsty for the dirt on bare feet,
and belly laughs and hugs that ask for nothing
in return, and for the one who should have been
the swan to guide her home.
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art and flair courtesy of @PegasusPhysics
Cover image via Unsplash, CC