27 January 2015

Pretext

At thirteen,
My changing needs made me afraid.
I rebelled, cropped my hair
close to boyish face, and
stole my father's t-shirts.
I was suspicious of breasts,
waited desperately for a spot on
plain white panties. Anything
for surety. Either here or there,
as long as it wasn't neither.

With time, I took pride
in long brown arms and legs.
Mother's thin shirts and denim shorts,
hair falling across the sunburnt plains
of shoulders and neck. Afraid of beauty,
and desirous of it at the same time,
cautious and greedy, young, mid-flight.

What does it mean
to have a nose the right size?
Curls of gold and clipped brows
placed ceremoniously upon forehead
of bronze, lips carved from the essence
of cherries and wine, sunset and blood?

Helen wasn't a character
simply a pretext.

Troy and Sparta, loss and gain -
the world before her was a lie.
Long shapely legs cannot rise above
the white veils we cast on ourselves.

Nobody knows whether Helen wanted to leave.
Perhaps she was a poet, a dancer, a lesbian, an ocean.
It didn't matter.

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