Ferndale

I'm a real lady here;

out

in

the

wild.

Bare feet

red raw

from the dry grass

(summers here

burn like fires

forever

on the freeway.)

Hair up in buns and braids

corseted

loveliness:

I think back

to

a twelve year old girl

who held Austin up like she was his mother

and not

just a child

playing

make

believe,

believing

that I was a real lady there.

I walked the hills for miles

lace

luxuries

I wanted to run through it with no shoes on

bathe in the river

cold

with that boy that I danced with once;

he said

red faced

that my smile was pretty

I was too young to understand his plight

and in my searching

I paid him no mind.

I remember the moon that night

so big

and full that I could reach out and touch it,

hold it like the baby

that I wanted in my belly.

I wanted what everyone else had

dolled up

in Ferndale

hoping that someone else would notice

my wide-eyed stare,

or maybe just the apple pies that I had baked all day

walking

across the hot pavement in Ferndale.

I wore a cut off

plaid shirt

strings dangling

and no sleeves

red

and

black,

I wore it like armor

to emulate

Shania Twain

or whoever it was that I wanted to be that summer,

I wore it

not realizing

that the men looked a little too long.

I lost my child-body quickly

milted

into the strange form

that I never learned to take hold of

alien

self;

I couldn't help

that I walked in the body of a women

when I was still a child.

My striking

stare

glaring

at all that I wanted

but could never recognize.

I searched

without sacrifice.

I wanted seed then,

I wanted to be it all,

I wanted what I take for granted now,

all in

Ferndale.

What they must have seen,

I don't know!

Lovely

or

less

then

what they all wanted.

I think

I am,

Aren't I?

In Ferndale

I hung around camp fires

drifters telling their tales

over beer

and a pack of cigarettes.

Years ago,

I was held up in a hotel bathroom

alone

in front of the mirror

pretending to spark the attention of a Clarke Gabel

or a Nelson Eddy

with the half smoked cigarette on the counter;

some other women's joy ride.

I think back

to my bare feet in Ferndale

how

at twelve

I could pass for eighteen

with a red haired infant in my arms.

I wanted all of the things

that I take for granted now.