always, a girl
by Nanette Rayman.
I surely loved lace and Hullaballoo a-go-go boots—
fueled threads and leather of girl
in my dreamy obeisance, the lackadaisical
profusion as chalice for a mother’s hate. I’d seen dancers
on the TV built right into the wall, with a crumb
of life-envy, mystified how some girls seemed nurtured
like rosebushes. See: some gardens gone wild, still
the readiness with which their mothers
gobbled them up with love and boots.
I tried to tell my mother to love me—no reply in the offing.
I was a sparrow run off by that cowbird.
And that woman my mother who discarded me
—now dependent on the brother with a repugnant
abundance of hate for all strong girls
pretty as roses dancing in white go-go boots.
Don’t tell me to let it go—no, the thought
of her at the salon, her demands to the stylist:
Cut off all my hair with no bangs, no,
the ferns bending to me in benevolence,
the stylist dropping the scissors,
that mother’s mouth pouring out spit,
feral woman in need of a cell
no one had the nerve to run off.
Just gaping and tears and shears.
I can’t let go the threats of murder if didn’t get all A’s
yet her refusal to send me to university—her foghorn
voice burrowing into my father’s brain, a sodium smog,
the jam-packed sound of a living shrunken-head, feral and fast.
Let go the smell of nail polish
remover and coffee, the grit of Ajax
corona all over the house, that sneer
planting fright in my mind that I was
a hell-girl—can’t let it go—not
when the lodged aura seeped into me
causing other women to act on their envy.
Beauty combined with a mother’s hate brands
a girl as verboten, a gone girl, a thing set aside.
I want to say what could have been.
I want to say my dreams.
I want to think that if this is just
a dress rehearsal, that next time
my talent will be honored not envied
and stomped on by jack-boot need
to destroy all that is good.
I want to say I am old now.
I have kick-ass boots lined up in a row.
I want to say that little girls grow
past it all,
and that little girls
can revel in their beauty still
there in old age
that older women
can walk by in their white lacy sundresses
and little ankle boots
and to the knee black boots
and know that our soul lives
while evil mothers’ mouths are sewn up
their souls trapped forever.
* * * * *
Nanette Rayman is the author of the poetry book, Shana Linda Pretty Pretty, Project: Butterflies, Foothills Publishing, two-time Pushcart nominee, included in Best of the Net 2007, DZANC Best of the Web 2010, first winner of the Glass Woman Prize for prose. Publications include The Worcester Review, Sugar House Review (poem mentioned at newpages.com), Stirring's Steamiest Six, Gargoyle, Berkeley Fiction Review, Editor's Pick for prose at Green Silk Journal, chaparral, Pedestal, ditch, Wilderness House Literary Review, decomp, Contemporary American Voices, featured poet at Up the Staircase Quarterly, Umbrella Factory, Rain, Poetry & Disaster Society, Grasslimb, Pedestal, DMQ Review, carte blanche, Oranges & Sardines, sundog lit, Melusine. Latest poetry at: Writing in a Woman’s Voice. She performed in many off off Broadway plays, studied at Circle in the Square and with Gene Frankel. She graduated from The New School.