And, so, it grows.

By Erica Bennett

 

I. I know my life will end

Like my voices told me,

At twenty when I first learned

Someday, I’d die.

 

II. They came upon me

While bathing, like Undine

Rising from the waters

In search of her soul.

 

III. They stayed to taunt me,

Leading me forward and beside,

Never showing me a clear path,

But, a gravel road instead.

 

IV. I couldn’t decipher their intent

In my youth, yet my compass led me

Beyond the sandstone blocks

Of Southern California.

 

V. I drove north westerly,

Made the city my own.

Down Santa Monica Boulevard

In a hazy orange VW dreamscape.

 

VI. I stayed, maybe fifteen years.

And then, waited five more

For the cancer to leave me

Before I rode those voices hard.

 

VII. I find myself now

Aged distinctively by the sun,

My face a craggy coastline,

No cream can soften the blow.

 

VIII. Yet, I fear not this time.

I have not faded.

And hot pink streaks my hair,

No ma’am am I.

 

IX. My voices speak lively words

Inside my head

Not that I could distinguish them

Until those twenty years went by,

 

X. When I finally put pen to paper

Fingertips to keyboard

And spoke their words aloud

For the first time.

 

XI. It was then I heard

The interior life of an aging,

Overweight ingénue, ripen with age.

Growing ever more bold and imperfect.

 

XII. And, I introduced myself

To Angry Old Woman,

Whose guttural English and sailor mouth

Belie a golden heart.

 

XIII. I’ve always wondered

Where the nasty comes from…

But, as long as I let her speak,

Her words on paper, no one is hurt.

 

XIV. There is separation in ink

That the spoken word cannot penetrate.

It is as if evidence of worth

Is only in the recording of them.

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