A beautiful, young, bleached-blonde woman gazes
At the tiny, wrinkled baby in her arms.
The new life snuggles warmly in her glad hands,
Blissfully unaware of the tears that gloss the woman's eyes
As she hands the baby over to another.
She never saw that her daughter had red hair.

The red-headed infant cries in the night,
The way all newborn babies are expected to.
A stranger she'll grow to call mother loves her,
For she is the daughter she was never capable of having,
And she gazes at her new baby with unfathomable joy.
It was truly a match made in heaven.

A shrieking toddler races back and forth
Through the little apartment she will grow up in.
Her excited squeals and delighted screams
Begin to take a toll on her already worn-out mother,
But she'll always be this active, and it can't be helped.
She is hardly grown, and already a bundle of personality.

Pre-K brings the bright possibility of new friends,
A blessing for a girl so friendly.
Surrounded by other lovely kids her age,
She is comfortable, for she loves her peers,
And revels in their sweet company.
She'll have ten years to get to know them, now.

She shakes her long, red hair down into her eyes,
Trying to stay hidden from the laughing crowd.
They all point, giggling behind their hands
At her funny mannerisms, her outrageous temper, her strange tastes,
Her fixation with drawing, and her geeky appearance.
First graders can be so cruel.

Her heart thumps audibly beneath her chest,
Her whole body pulsing with anger.
She closes her eyes to the continued teasing, smiling simply,
Remembering a time when she would have snarled madly,
And probably thrown heavy objects at the perpetrators.
Her fifth grade teacher has started coaching her on controlling her violent tendencies.

She is used to words like "weird," and "crazy," now,
But she thinks she certainly won't mind getting away from them.
On her last day of eighth grade, she realizes how deeply she'll miss this place,
And all these people: her few but very dear friends,
And even the numerous people she'll always hold grudges to.
She starts to cry when she realizes she's leaving a second family behind.

The teenager twirls long strands of red hair around her fingers nervously,
Squinting against the sun, and biting her lip in terrified apprehension.
Waiting in this enormous queue of people outside her new school,
She feels sick with anxiety about the possibilities staring her tauntingly in the face,
Making her doubt that anyone would ever like her in high school.
The world is so much bigger and brighter than she'd ever expected.

All too suddenly, the girl is surrounded by people who love her,
And a boy of quiet power is already stealing her heart.
Insecurity convinces her she'll never have him,
But all too suddenly, he's kissing her under the shade of a tree in a sunny field,
Just the way she knew her first kiss should be.
First loves are something to remember, no matter how badly they are bound to end.

Her hair is too long, she decides, picking at the split ends
Hanging blandly to the place where her waist curves into her hips.
With unusual confidence in her expression, and a revelation in her heart,
She let the hairdresser pull her red sheet behind her head, and slice it away,
So that there is no more natural curtain for her to hide behind.
She wants to be visible as her high school years go on.

Her knee bounces up and down impatiently as she waits
For tomorrow to finally arrive with the answer to her future.
She is stronger than she was yesterday, for today she understands pacifism,
Accepts what it means to be herself, has learned not to rush love,
And now she glosses over her nerves, greeting the approaching college years politely.
She cannot believe how fast it all happened.

So when did this all happen?