Dear Fractal Me, 14, 28, 42, 56, maybe 70 (Growing Up True and False)
I’m here from the future only temporarily present. I tell you
Only half believe when they say “be yourself” — no
one really cares if you are yourself or anyone else or not, the best
reason, therefore to care about yourself since no one else
does. Only half believe when they say “something
to fall back on.” True, Falling is a law of the universe, though falling
forward & sideways can be true as much as back. Words will
not hurt, you’ve been told. False: though words hurt not
as much as they will if you believe them or when
you want someone not to. Return then to Rule
One: Be yourself but in half-belief, so respect
yourself. Don’t wait for someone to call. Don’t wait for lightning to
strike, for inspiration to come get you, or for fate’s fickle finger. Get up,
go out the door. What you don’t do will be the greatest regret,
more than what you desire and more than what you’ll get. And when you get
new underwear, be grateful and sure to pack the extra pair.
Morning, Frenchman’s Bay
Heaven is unclear, a soft grey, dim light
indistinguishable from waters of Frenchman’s Bay,
a lateral swath. Out of fog, a motor comes —
a lobsterman sets traps, the sound of him moves
away like the woods disappeared and the finches into
the tops of the trees, golden flecks, joy
flittering into uncertainty. On the walk back
a deer appears, terrified, runs back into forest.
Men make lighthouses, big for sailors, and little
ones for their lawns. They become metaphors
and so unreliable. What awaits us on the other
shore are rocks, and after that, mystery,
the movement of joy into uncertainty.
Sharlene Gilman is a Pushcart and O. Henry Prize nominee whose poems and fiction have appeared in journals like The Distillery, Poetry Now, and Portland Review. She received her B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin, her M.F.A. from Vermont College, and her Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University. She is currently the Assistant Professor of Developmental Writing at Bloomsburg University.