Prospect (n.)

Just the prospect of you
is enough to send me spiraling down
into this beautiful maze of unending ‘what if’s’

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Mother was unforgiving.
Says she loves me
through words that cut
like a jagged knife.

Says she sees herself
in the way I walk
so she warns me I will
stumble the way she’d done.

‘Straighten your back’,
she hisses from between
tightly clenched teeth
and a counterfeit smile.

‘Nobody will see lanky
in a child of mine.
I forbid you
to be so disinclined.’

You hear these words
so often as a child,
you construct this
miscontrued version of love.

Mother, see,
I am not like you,
but I am your daughter.
I am so much more.
Like you say I am.
Let me learn
to please me,
not you or men.
Mother, please,
will you ever see,
these bruises
and scars
were not from
falling down?
These transcripts
on my soul are
from your words
that leave me
dissonant.

[disclaimer: this is not about my mother. but it is someone else’s parent. it is real and it is heartbreaking.]

As a young girl,
who wore her heart
on her sleeves,
I’ve placed
trust in every
palm that
was held before me.

I drove out, given, taken
laughter where it suited.

My dreams were stories
I openly told people
who would lend me their ears.
In return, they treated them
as if they were gifts
they were too eager
to receive.

The questions I had
were met with answers
as if my life and theirs
depended on them.

The thrill of growing up
and knowing my words
could pull people
like magnets was a gift
I took for granted.

I discovered that words,
that left the tongue,
and fell on ears
and caught by eyes,
was like a daisy,
plucked from the roots,
never to bloom again
from the earth,
but would forever
seek residence
in the heart and
foster in the mind.

I found that words
could be both –
the reddest of roses
and sharpest of thorns.

Slowly, unknowingly,
the sleeves of my shirts grew longer.
Open and willing palms turned into
clenched fists.
laughter was unlike the oxygen
I breathed.
it was a rare stone,
worked hard for,
slaved over,
only to find out,
on occasion that
they were fake.

(I doled out laughter and smiles
as if I had them in abundance
to get me in and out of
situations that suited me.)

I didn’t know.
I was already a player
in the game of pretend
they called ‘adulthood’,
which I thought was a myth,
but all too well,
discovered, bruised,
burnt, that no one plays
this game willingly,
but we’re thrust upon it,
pretending to know the rules
from the get-go.

no wonder when I was a child,
the adults craved
the company of the naive girl.
realization struck me –
the innocence of a child,
is unlike the innocence
of an adult.
the innocence of a grown up,
is a weapon of destruction,
whereas to a child,
it is a shield of comfort.
It is endless possibility and hope
until it is broken down
by messy hands
and clumsy tongues.
but rebuilt with the will
and strength formed from
years of falling down.