Demeter Faces Facts - Poem by Alison Townsend
No matter what you do, she's a girl looking both ways
isn't she? When you really think about it. When you stand
in her shoes, whether they are the open-toed, gold sandals
of Greek myth, platform wedges and Indian water-buffalo
slides of your youth, or those sequined flip-flops
that are new again this year, dangling from her slender,
silver toe-ringed foot, while a tattooed dragonfly dries
its blue wing on her ankle as if she were the first to ever
dream it. Thirteen now, but no matter how she dresses,
she's still your girl, isn't she, standing between worlds, looking
both ways, forward and back, like you taught her to before
crossing a street? But deciding herself. And you're
her mother. When you braid her hair, brushing out
the night you know she's taken inside her, picking bits
of leaf and dirt from the long, sun-streaked strands, your fingers
tangle, catching on the knots of all she hasn't said.
And won't say now, her lips sealed against you,
no matter how tempered your greeting or sweet your kiss,
no matter how tender your maternal ministrations.
Without even meaning to, she's gone underground,
the face whose curve you shaped with your own hand,
fugitive, a sullen stranger's you'll never touch the same way
again. Still, you keep brushing and braiding, separating
the strands and binding them together again, as if they were
a rope by which you could hold her, tethering her to your body
as she was once anchored and fed, your blood hers. Before
she got big enough to cross the street without looking back
to catch your eye. When you were still everything she needed.
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