what if, star child

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what if
sometimes i wonder if i am living in a parallel universe of my own haphazard creation
exploring every curious desire
that might have come into the mind of some realer, better me
the one that others see
because she fits into their simple, happy world
the good sweet girl
who made cookies and attended sports games and sang at church
never spoke a cruel word
never stood up for herself
never showed her insides breaking down
crippled by the lack of oxygen in that quaint little bubble
she took all the right classes
joined the right social groups
happily threw her life away
to marry one sweetheart or another
she spent her days dutifully pushing down my every urgent whim
to see the truth of the world and herself in it


what if
on the other hand
the me perceived and projected
by my fierce and anxious foremothers
continued studying academia
reading male historians and playwrights in their dead languages
memorizing the names of male artists and their mediums and objects
in this fantasy, does she end up married to some ivy league scholar
the key to the life they want for her
impressive and boring
wealthy and out of touch
or does she enjoy a proud and humble solitude
spending her spare moments  
tending to their clawing mania 
and traveling alone
she moves from city to city
but never too far to send a postcard
or hop on a flight
to hear in person
how she will never be enough
how no one will ever satisfy
these furies’ 
unending, ever-changing expectations


what if
i had held my truest self
that stubborn, star-bound child
closer to my heart
if i had never let her go
even when they all dismissed her
eyes glazing right over her shimmering soul
this little girl full of spunk
dreaming of stages and splendor
could i have made them believe
in my wild visions
in me
taken them by the hand and brought them along
journeying together through the hopeful and lovely world in my mind
full of possibility
untouched by fear


if i had tried a little harder
if i had never worried about what they thought
if i had known my own mind
and resolved in my own heart
that this is the only real me
and this is my only real world
would those fates and furies and harpies and witches and demons all
would they have seen her dancing proudly through the world
and understood her
and loved her
would they have said
“she is going to be great
just like she dreams
she already is great”
aren’t we all great?


this star child is mine and mine alone
and i belong to her
no more what if
no more painted face
no more betraying our own shared heart
i am loyal now only to her
until she and i are friends again
until she and i are one

shine, little star


Inspiration for this poem was sparked by reading Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin. Thank you Tavis for the gift. “Nobody can stay in the garden of Eden,” Jacques said. And then: “I wonder why.”