The Fledgeling

There was a blue swing in the playground

In the far corner

Where the grass was frosty under my feet

The only color

Among all the other swings

And best of all

Apart from the rest

The blue swing

Mine alone


There is always more comfort

In being lonely alone

Than being lonely in a crowd

And I pumped my feet high

And imagined

That if I were brave enough to jump

I could fly –

Never touch the ground again –

But I’m a coward


You can get used to anything

And besides

Loneliness has a certain comfort

A blanket

That held tight enough against your body

Returns your warmth

But doesn’t quite stretch in all directions

And leaves your heart

Out in the cold


When I was alone I knew everything

I knew who I was

In the way that a flat piece of paper

Professes to reveal

The world in all its complexities

Too much time

Spent searching the corners of my brain

Thinking vainly

I could find God there


Who am I?

I dance when I’m alone

Like the ballerina I used to think I’d be

I sing along to Strauss waltzes

And my voice cracks on the high notes

I met God in the forest and by the ocean and in music –

The private trivia

Of a teenage girl

But I won’t always be seventeen


Funny how it takes someone else

To teach you

Who you are

Funny how the most important things

About you

Are sometimes

Revealed in someone else

Like the only true mirror

Has someone else’s face in it


Alone makes it easy

To know what you want to be

But to become who you want to be

You have to know the person you are

And I didn’t

And I’m still not sure

Because the one thing I know

Is that I’ve changed

And the face in the mirror is a new one


It’s a relief in the end

To know that I know nothing

Better to know I have my eyes shut

Than to be blind

Better to be unsure of the real world

Than to memorize every item

On the inventory of that close room

The vivid blackness

Of the inside of my skull


At least I can say:

I am here

I am ready to experience

If not to know

My eyes are open

My hands are extended to you

Reach the rest of the way

And I won’t need that blue swing


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