As a girl. The refrain surfaces,
bobs back up
in the poems and essays I write
as a woman prone to slipping back.
I am both years and pages away
from girlhood, but
remain remarkably attached to
the girl whose dreams were stoked by story.
My parents crafted, handed me my
first fairy tale.
Wistfully, it framed our family
and reframed their once upon a time.
“On January 30th in
we got married in secret, while I
lived at home, your daddy in the dorm.”
A senior, she was just three months
shy of 18,
my brother nine months from being born.
Their honeymoon baby. I believed.
As a girl, I could squint backwards, see
the two of them,
slipping out for a date and slipping
on their wedding bands when no one was looking.
My brother broke it to me, I think.
I was really
the only one still holding on to
the retelling that saved a southern
girl some shame, but cost her years of not
the woman she was and the real date,
April 30, 1960.
Cover image by Samuel Rodriguez