This Girl of Mine
by Jenny Scott
Second Place Winner
My boy came like rain –
expected and needed.
There was no thought to love;
it was just
like the beautiful tea-stained
birthmark that leaked onto his tiny stomach,
like his fluid blue eyes that searched
for the next good meaning.
As soon as he could hold a book –
We read to the heart-like ticking of the clock,
the steady, wintry hum of the furnace.
He listened to what I had to say
like I was a sage, a song, a mother.
I knew I'd never love another child,
not like that.
Still, two years later came my girl –
a girl who grabbed for life the way
dawn grabs for light.
When she was able,
I put a book in her tiny hands
and she threw it across the room –
threw it like it was an old toy,
a handful of wilted flowers,
a slightly broken heart.
How could this be?
This girl of mine
who doesn't love to read,
who doesn't love the weighty feel,
the inky, rooty smell,
the brainy, secret nerve of books?
she loves the things outside of books.
She loves the things that books are about.
A teenager now,
she still hugs as loud as she yells.
She has a garden of friends,
girls like her.
They have brittle, dramatic conversations.
She feels so bad, so bad,
for a friend who has been forgotten
by a boyfriend.
But I can tell she doesn't really feel that bad.
I can tell she's just trying on compassion,
like one of those balled-up sweaters
in the corner of her whirlwind room.
I hope she'll choose compassion.
I think she will, her brown eyes are filled
with refracting pools of wild love.
In the city she links my arm tightly with hers
and kisses my cheek, which surprises me –
as if a butterfly has quickly landed there.
When she was little her legs ached often –
she'd cry and say her legs felt wobbly.
But her legs aren't wobbly anymore;
they're strong and quick.
Her feet click along in high-heeled,
going where she wills them to go,
fearless, fast, and headlong into life.
I don't just love her.
I fall in love with her every day.