Oct/Nov 2009 Poetry Special Feature

When We Learned To Be Chameleons

by Sarah Yost

Image: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

When We Learned To Be Chameleons

we kept all things special in secret boxes of flesh and bone
suspended in little squares of liquid silence, hidden
from adults, whose colorless eyes could dry up whole seas
of inky mystique. we learned. we learned to look on
either side of ourselves and quite seamlessly fade from
magenta to puce. we learned to creep very slowly in
conversation, to keep the cupboards closed tightly
when company was over, smile and take the cookies
offered us—please & thank you, curtsey, ma'am—and walk
along the curb, keeping clear of the muck-muddy, leaf-clotted
gutters, those veins of our pounding hearts, until they too dried
to dust and blew away, and our little boxes, we buried as coffins


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