“I’ll never forget how you grinned
When you first curled your little fist
Around that crayon.
Spring Green. Not that you could read.
You felt the fine point, the waxy sheen,
Crawled to the wall and left a big scrawl
On the nice white paint.
That’s when it started,
All that reckless art.
We should have known...”
I would have forgotten what they looked like
But they surface in my mother’s storehouse--
Girls, a galaxy of girls with bold stares
And ballooning hair;
And monsters with marvellous tails
That waved on the whims of my wobbling grip
And fast-wandering fantasies.
But they danced together only for a while.
In middle school when I learnt the perks
Of stitching a smile on to my face
I let my room get a makeover,
And the crayon crew dove under coats
Of cream and mauve.
It was a useful time upon the whole.
I picked up tricks I never even dreamt of--
I learnt to walk light, silk my sides,
Glide in and out of every groove,
Fold up my corners like a paper plane,
Twist my joints into tight little loops,
I learnt to liquefy.
Now that I paint on bigger walls
I bless those lessons every day.
Thanks to them I can ride the night air,
Melt through barb wire.
Since those rules have wrung me out,
Headlight and helmet glare
Pass through my pores.
Few things satisfy more
Than learning the laws so well
That you can play by them to give hell.
The monsters I used to make don’t compare
To the ones I draw now.
These come straight from your world--
Stained with the grease and crust of burnt flesh
Steered by the awkward thrust of bent bones
Lit by the sullen flare of old fear
Bred by the bated breath of borderlands.
Occasionally I throw some humour in--
A sassy smile shining through wild curls,
One of my old-time girls.
But it’s never easy.
By the time I smoothen out the last smear,
I’m a sweaty mess. My heart dances out of step.
I turn with a swish of my skirt
Fingers twitching, hairtips hissing
Sure I shouldn’t look back. I don’t.
Instead I count to three. Breathe.
Then with a click of my heels
I rise to join the night.