Or Maybe the Day After That
I’m tired of thinking about Tara,
trying to save her for God knows what.
I’m tired of plenty
after all those months
of making do.
Sometimes I miss boiled turnips
and dirt under my nails.
I’m tired of dresses
made to order, petticoats
and ball gowns,
so tired I could rip these curtains
from the windows too.
I’m too tired to bear anyone’s grief
but my own,
tired of apologizing
for misplaced jealousy.
I don’t care if I have to loosen
my corsets after a hearty meal,
one I cooked myself.
Right now I have no plans
to make plans. Instead,
I’m going to sit right here
at the foot of the stairs
and have a good cry,
and I don’t care if anyone
gives a damn or not.
Maybe tomorrow, my thoughts
will come clearer—or
maybe the day after that.
Roots and wings, her mama always said,
Roots and wings, parroting something clever
she had heard from other wiser mothers,
but with her timing off, or just her common
sense. She never knew just which to bestow
when. As they started school, crying,
clinging to her skirts, she offered wings,
shooing them into strange new classrooms
sniffling, but when they wished to date,
to drive, she held tight, packing the soil tight
against their roots, shaping their branches
with twine. When they needed her
for goodnight prayers and nursery rhymes,
she insisted that they learn to entertain
themselves; when they begged to spend
the night with friends, she wept and claimed
they did not love her, leaving her alone
like that. No wonder then, that when they
met a friend, a man, anyone who showed
them kindness, they clung, believing every
word. No wonder still they left that house
the first chance they found, like desparate
passengers, rowing the lifeboat away
from the foundering ship, sawing at knots
that bound them with their teeth if necessary.
“I grant I never saw a goddess go;
my mistress when she walks treads on the ground.”
Heavy footed, even back when I didn’t
weigh a hundred pounds soaking wet,
I could never slip up on anyone. I clomped
when barefoot, and in high heels, I clicked.
No one could accuse me of not trying,
though. Aware of more graceful girls,
I aspired—to no avail—to steal, unnoticed,
into their ranks but lived and breathed—
and walked—the personification of
two left feet. Dances were no different:
I trampled on the toes of luckless boys,
even tripping over my own two feet.
What vast relief, when I discovered poetry,
to find there feet content to trip along
as I directed; dactyls, iambs, trochees
all do my bidding, with unmatched grace.