A Poem: In Which I Conquer My Fears and Maybe Remember to Brush My Hair

“A condition,” they called it.

“Night terrors,” they said.

Back when the words would tear me up inside.

The moon travelled her pendulum line

and my eyes would follow her and turn the stars into knives.

I didn’t mean to. I didn’t know how

to control so many syllables

in such a small space.

I just thought I was one small girl

who couldn’t stay focused

who sometimes got lost when people said things to her

because she liked following the lazy trails of their English.

One small girl

who sometimes got lost when her mama told her

to sleep.

One small girl

who couldn’t remember everything

who sometimes didn’t brush her hair

or get on the school bus.

One small girl

who kept the words inside



through those nights.


“A pen,” she called it.

“For writing,” she said.

I thought it was stupid.

(I was younger those days.)

Crumpled paper, wasted ink.

I pushed too hard, I took too long.

I just thought I was one small girl

with one more thing

she just couldn’t do right.


“A journal,” he called himself.

“For words,” he said.

It saw me in the store and I couldn’t put it down.

The pages like clouds.

The cover like bark.

I knew there was something special

about that $5.99 journal

besides the clearance sticker on the front.


“Impossible,” I called it.

“Too hard,” I said.

The first words still weren’t easy.

(Can they ever be easy?

Can it ever be easy

to meet something for the first time

to adjust to a new friend

or an old, old, old one?)

But little by little,

piece by piece,

they came.



“My medicine,” I call it.

“My savior,” I say.

Things are different now.

I know I am still one small girl

who still can’t remember to brush her hair

who maybe sometimes still daydreams in class

who sometimes still gets lost in the maze of words inside

and around her.

But now I have my pen,

and the words that rhyme







I love it.

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