take 2

i’ve always known

that i’m a take 2

i’m a try-again

when it fails the first time

do better with the next one

i’m a repeat kid

reliving someone else’s life

filling shoes too big

feeling trapped inside

wondering why but never working up the courage to confront

the past

a ghost whose clothes I wore

saw in the mirror if I looked too quick

in pictures

when time stands still

quiet child and loved

bloomed into shattered self-image and more questions

than an army of parents could answer

too many for two

so I kept them neatly boxed in my head

slowly oozing out in sharp words

I didn’t cut myself

learning instead a more violent trade

worry lines, when I broke out

of the shell of obediently following rules

awareness and slowly-dawning adulthood

caused me to challenge the status quo

rock the boat

get out of the boat and walk away

I get secondhand fear

from parents paralyzed by loss

and I am reminded

i’m a take 2 child

do better than she did

you can slip

but you can’t fall

and make sure no one sees

when your knees tremble

the only way to keep moving

is to duct tape doubt’s mouth closed

stow him in the trunk

and keep rolling

as if I can’t hear

the pounding

louder than the music I play on the radio

this feeling of drowning

in fear

don’t be stupid and don’t get pregnant

but what about boys — what are those

and what fills the space between

attraction and sex

where do the lines fall

and who do you ask

when you outgrew mom at age ten

my unsteady feet and level head

keep my head above water

and lying looks a lot like succeeding

for a girl followed by imposter syndrome

because you can’t play the comparison game

if you are the only one

playing

take 2

but I can’t seem to find

five minutes of quiet-mind

I recycle a to-do list

that includes a career

in a world no one taught me to navigate

maps went out of style

with the invention of the GPS

too bad

I lost all traces

of a signal

what pulls me home

when truth is just a playing card

they lay down to win me over

twenty years old and i’m beating my sister

who is thirty

but who’s keeping score?

a lifetime of being called the wrong name

morphs from a funny blunder

to an identity crisis

what if I start answering

to her name

when the devil calls

what if one foot

in front of the other

plodding forward

is plodding downward

well-meaning smiling friends say

“you are just like her!”

somehow simultaneously

burying me beneath the weight of unmet expectations and making me recoil in fear

do I really want

to be that beautiful wild thing

do I want to share

those broken empty eyes

and the carefree swinging hips

that catch the eye of every boy

here’s a game to play

here’s a life to live

would you rather?

be beautiful

or safe

would you rather be

boring

or damned

i’m a redo kid

and I hold my breath when they do

wondering, awed and terrified

“will she turn out okay?”

1 thought on “take 2”

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