Poetry will save me

As I’ve grown, I’ve become more reckless.

As a child, I set my bedtime
at 7:30, arguing that I was growing and required more
sleep. My mother laughed and still tells the story.

As a preteen, I mapped out my life— college
would get me out of my small town (it did); college
would crack open the world like a pecan.
I placed pins in the world map that hung
like a prayer in my closet— never go back to Summerville.
But college is expensive, and I come
from Poverty. What to do?

Babysit neighborhood children and young cousins.
Sell artwork to classmates for their lockers
(Blastoise was my best seller).
Create jewelry and sell it door-to-door.
Craft animals from pipe cleaners (fingers
are easily torn by wire ends— a cautionary tale) and sell
them widely— teachers placed custom orders
for the holidays.

As a teen, my savings grew. I was accepted to Duke
(out of state!). I wrote that I wouldn’t marry
until I was 30, after I bought my house
with the red door and owned a Mustang.

Love is cloudy and makes the mind brackish.

As a teenager, I birthed my child to laughter. 16.
Savings (paltry) drained.

As a mother, days were precise. Feeding at 10am.
15 minutes for snuggling and burping. 45 minutes
for play. 30 minutes to read together.
Nap at noon. Scheduled. Written.
Posted on the white refrigerator.

Kindergarten— four baby carrots, eight cubes
of Muenster cheese, ziplock bag of Goldfish,
box of apple juice. 30 minutes for homework.
Play until 6pm. Dinner. 45 minutes
to read together. Quality time (TM).

Now I speak of running to the edge of the Cliffs
of Moher to see the waves eat at the cliff face
300 feet down, of riding a yellow Kawasaki Ninja
until I landed on my head, of no fear, of no
dinner because I forgot, of “What day is it?,”
of poetry.

Poetry has made me reckless.

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