Our paper house sat
on the banks of the red river
and though mother
wasn’t like other mothers
I was like other girls
trapped and lonely
and painting pictures
in the stars. I was slick
with old birth or early longing,
already halfway between
who I wanted to be and who I was.
Our floors were made of flame
but there was no wind
so we were as safe as anyone.
When spring came,
I walked for a very long time
up I-35, and at the end of the road,
I found a boy who placed earphones
onto my head and pumped opera
into my body. I can feel it still.
Underneath that treeless sky,
I was as changed as I would ever be.
Not even mother noticed.
Copyright © 2015 by Nicole Callihan. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 14, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.
About this Poem
“One afternoon, in Oklahoma, when I was a teenager, I sat in a field, and a boy put his Sony walkman on my head and blasted Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Music of the Night’ into my ears. I had never heard anything so powerful. That moment made me completely reimagine everything I believed about art, beauty, and possibility.”
Nicole Callihan is author of Translucence, co-written with Samar Abdel Jaber (Indolent Books, 2018).
Date Published: 2015-05-14
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/fable-0