To Make Her My Own

Why was I cursed

For only trying to love a child?

She did not come from my womb

But how I longed

To hold her near my breast

In comfort

And make her my own

 

I met her father

In drab

And ill décor

Lost his wife

Couldn’t keep up with the tide of life

My heart mourned as he did

And after some time

He began to look at me

In a way that involved more passion than bereavement

 

Fear took at me

When he stooped on one knee

And asked for my hand

I knew what my destiny held when it came to that man

Yet something inside of me

Pulled me to his world

More yet

To his family

 

Not even a year and a quarter later

My husband went to barter

He never came home

Boys on the street said he was run over by an intoxicated ox

.It took a matter of a few days before I snapped into weeping

Cries of insanity

For the man

And the love that will never see true ripening

 

My girls barely knew him

I am glad though that they had loved him just the same

But his daughter

John’s daughter

Was another story

She retreated into herself

Closing all access to her heart

Never letting anyone comfort her

Not even her sisters

Who were closer to her age than I

All she did was clean

And read

Pay heed to God

And herself

 

She wanted nothing to do with me

 

I was not even aware of the ball

We were not as rich as most claimed

Enough fortune we had

Only to barely keep the house!

My daughters begged and begged me more to go that blasted ball

I remained firm

In my saying no

They pouted

And cried

Their faces rubricated

With indignation and disappointment

I was so preoccupied with Rachel and Nubia

That I barely noticed

Marquella

Or as my daughters called her behind her sulking back

“Cinderella”

 

I recall hearing strange noises at night

Crashing

Bashing

Scuffling upon the wooden floors

So I went down the hall

And checked her room

And from that heaping lump under her bed sheets

And that God awful snoring

I knew Marquella

Was wiped out

From what

I would not know until weeks later

 

He came on a Sunday

After church ended their afternoon sermon

Horses came up on our dirty porch

Causing a slippery commotion in the rain

With a diamond studded glass slipper in his hand

And a desperate expression upon his juvenescent face

That I even asked what went on with Marquella

Reluctantly

She took me to her room

And opened her closet

Of private wonders

There was her dress

Pink as the sky on a summer’s evening

Soft and gentle

And coy like her

A sash that was so fine

That it had to have been made by her late mother

The seamstress she was

And there it was

Shining from the angle of the window’s early light

The other slipper

Or if you can even call it one

It looked more like a stiletto when up close  

I knew then her snoring that night

Was from more than a hard day at studying for her exams

 

The prince looked upon Marquella with love

And Marquella

Well

She was not all that impressed

She bade him farewell

And thanks

For that enjoyable night they shared

From that downcasted look his face

It seemed he was hoping for more than a thanks

And a near shoe fitting

 

Before the rain clouds parted

And the evening sun came with its pinks and faded golds

I asked Marquella

“Why did you say no”

Then she did the darndest thing

I felt her thick chocolate arms around me

Before sprinklings of tears fell onto my chemise

Maybe I was delusional

But I could have sworn I heard her muffling

“I need to be with the one who loves me. I figure I should give back

What she’s always given me

And that’s better than any old shoe”

 

Maybe in that moment

I did not make her my own

Maybe instead

I became hers

 

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