I have always been the other,
wide-eyed dreaming into Shakespeare, six
and chasing my brother with a sword, pulling
mint from out the sideyard, stolen books
the currency in my house.

I am not you. I have never been,
Barbie-pink and princess, curling
sparkles into hair, rhinestones
onto cowboys, no, I always knew
I will be a paladin in my tie-dye
and jeans.

Tumbling, end over end down railroads,
observation post roofs along the alley, witch
in the bramble, crowned with grapevine
and playing war in thickets, stealing
quarters for the bookstore.

I will never falter, and I will never fail,
these real-life tragedies can’t catch me,
midnight stair-step watching, staring
into the empty dark. Careening into darkness,
pickup truck and boots.

I will always be the other,
gun-shy, heartbroken, shouting and climbing
ladders, running gangs of informants
in the schoolyard, lurking,
to listen to the stories,
or to enjoy the lurk.

Never shouting, I went quiet, have stayed,
black cat on the windowsill, fat with ego,
thicket-crouched and crowned in berries,
ribbons ‘round my neck.