Mary on Ski Break

by Emma Sophia Sullivan


I have lived the holy trial of moving vans
and know the audience of headlights.
Someday, I will be wicked. I worry.
But when it comes, it will be no surprise.

What’s there to do in the dark?
I am too far in my own conscience,
“stepping out” confuses me;

I’ve heard so much about the bargain bin
and I want to tear my hands through it.

I want to tease the wires out, for a
spark to jump the gap.
I want the nonsense of the tape reversing back.

if I try
to become you, at all, I make myself
magnificently small, I fight the shaking of my legs
and the darkness of my eyes.

Ignore this and the colors return.
I am worn but waterproof.
I am resounding,
I want resolute.

I heard over the airwaves
how to beat my winter fatigue,
Knowing nothing of its kind:

“F-L fly!”
The burn of trumpets, an angel chorus on high.
Outside, I am ultra-blue and extra-alive.

To make the most of my twenty days
out of the box, I practice counting.
Twenty can last forever.
Twenty is forty times the streetlamps switch,
Twenty is two-hundred of the mailman’s steps.

I am allowed the secret favorite trick of mothers,
I know a gift before it is opened,
and I will never tell.

Before I was inherited, I was stolen
away by a boy without his coat.
Another came along for the camel,
arms linked around its folded legs.
I feel precious, thrown over the lip of the hood.
My destiny is a joyride,

Out on a school night.
The radio signal’s breaking up
and there’s tennis shoes rolling around by the brakes.
Someone’s climbing up the call box,
someone’s teaching me the gimmick play.

I stare very long at the camel’s face.
One night in floodlight–
glory on the enemy’s field,
wrapped in the boy’s scarf,

I fold the yards back.
Tonight I’m without
the neighbor’s dog sounding off the curb.
I lose a set of sorrows,
the chart of days.

The morning's garage door mantra,
Our wheels will not fall off the tracks.
The world as I knew it will be right back.

I’m carted off again,
the scarf slips off.

The foam and frost,
It is all the same to me.
The open windows and the stars
are all the same to me,

But the shadows shift.
A longer day is no relief. The dust
makes fine company
when the moths have
somewhere better to be.
In summer, my name doesn’t rhyme with anything.

Today will be different. Today I will be different.
I have wrung my wrists enough,
the stone I’ve become.

A seagull shriek,
that’s what I am.
One quick cut through the air,
the waver of your wings.

You ask for strength and faith,
so I will throw my foot out in your path.

I will go back to the dark with new clarity
on the color of the curtains.
I have survived my seasons
and I will do it again. I will be wicked.
The light will find me, still.


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