Apr/May 2013 Poetry Special Feature

Would the Real Me Please Stand Up

by Barbara DeFranceschi

Artwork by Clinton McKay

Artwork by Clinton McKay

Would the Real Me Please Stand Up

I came with hungry lips and a vault of dark hair,
nipples fed the yearn,
crocheted bonnets tamed the crown.

As a wild five-year-old I took up a dare,
drank from a borrowed cup of vinegar
on the way home from a giving neighbor's place,

throat screamed, stomach gnashed,
triumph over a wimp playmate was acid sweet.
For a tenth birthday treat my hair was washed

in kerosene to remove a colony of nits,
I was the red-scalp heroine in an infested street.
At fifteen I felt the rough dash of love,

got married at nineteen for fifty thousand reasons/
and for love. I was the make-up queen with crimson
streaked hair and pink jeans, wrists lead a jangled

life on bracelets made from silver and moon-stones.
Following the song-lines—romance and parenting,
centuries gathered and went in quick time.

My lover died, so did my heart. Now
seems like another shape, a folding back,
a moving forward at slackened pace.

I swim in the hydrotherapy pool like a mermaid
on a siren trail, become an intelligence junkie who plays
Scrabble with a group of likewise fazed brains.

On the quirky side I listen to Planet Radio dressed fittingly
in African safari garb, light a fire in the backyard,
put my ear to the ground to hear elephants on a stampede.

Evenings can be a long disquiet of hesitant things.
Retro candles shed LED light, I trace the lines
on the palm of my hands—and try to fathom self.


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