Grow Up


          I'm not going to tell you there was a creek

          by our house where I caught tadpoles

          and an apple tree on the back hill

          from where in my dreams, I flew.


          See, I left the cornfields and the old train tracks

          where I'd meet the farmer's sons and factory daughters

          to share Marlboros and throw the Gennessee empties

          into the back of some boy's borrowed pick-up truck.


          I've lived through empty arms

          and the short reach of a mother

          who taught me nothing if not to worry.

          The sweat of her love grew

          the guilt I carried when I packed

          my meager bags with poetry and letters,

          diaries and novels, scrawled lines,

          copied pictures and left.

          I left my father cursing the screen door

          as it slammed my departure.


          I arrived at bottles of Tequila

          and iguana mornings foggy

          on a remote college campus

          between the Adirondack Mountains

          and the Canadian border.


          Now, I hide behind this teacher voice,

          the one that warns that your lessons

          are not legible, that you're late.

          "Get a pass."

          "Sit down," I say.

          "The bell has rung,

          and get your homework out."

          So comfortable these words of command.

          I ignore your scars,

          the drawn eyes of hangover,

          the bitter nails of the struggle

          I clearly recognize.

          Instead, I'll scrawl another schedule in my planner,

          jot another task down to follow,

          watch my hands gather the fine creases

          of an age I'd never thought I'd be.




                                                                     Michelle Holland