NOW I SEE
By Mignon Ariel King
Daddy had one, so when its three tones of art-deco wood
creaked open on tiny black hinges to emit a breath of cedar,
I fell in love. I could see the green plastic soldiers inside,
and the black with white tips shaving cream slather brush
on a tiny silver stand, soap disc tray attached as if a butler
were offering it. And I pictured Traci Tricycle riding around
the ecru, scarlet, and navy Old Spice bottle on her rubbery
dolly knees. From 1987 to 2001 I lugged it around, despite
abandoning all things but books, clothes, and kitchen saucers.
Safe at Momma’s house for nearly ten years, it stayed behind
when I moved clear across the state it seemed with a fourth
of what’s left of me but two parentsful of memories for company.
A Day Off from School, 1971
My big brother knew the shape of a real heart
was nothing like the valentines pretty girls got
in second grade. And he drew the sun top-center
with crayons, filling in the shadows of trees, people,
and lamp posts with pencil. His birthday was Dr. King’s.
Kept home from school in protest of the non-holiday,
we Three Little Ones pretended it was in honor of art.
No slumping solitary in a room full of regulars, ignoring
rather than showcasing that I couldn’t really blend in.
My sun only peeked from one corner of drawings.
What did a plain, bookish girl have to radiate over?
I didn’t miss out on knowledge without school. I learned
about photosynthesis. Gradually, the sun moved closer
to the middle of my happy scenes. In high school, I tried
to hide my very round face and high-foreheaded mind.
Cute girls called me “lollipop head.” My stick body!
My large features! I bemoaned. My brother looked up
from Daredevil to say, “Yup. Just like supermodel.
Flip the calendar pages or not, days stay with you.
People leave. Time flits. Wounds heal. All true.
But certain days won’t budge. They snuggle up
against you on the couch, steal chips from your bowl,
then flip, flip, flip the channels without bothering to ask
if you have a preference. Days are jealous when you lick
salt from your own l-i-p-s. So maybe get some sleep early,
bolting the door on selfish days to embrace truer night.
Now I See
It’s very clear the moon isn’t here for good,
so I pursue it. Out into the impressive cold,
head pounding a hint that this late-dusk trek
is unwise. But my legs don’t listen. Feet ignore
chastisements carved from logic. I’m miserable.
Not depressed. Misery always has a cause,
or two. I don’t know why the moon persists.
Rounding the corner, I see him. Working hard
in the cold. He smiles. We trade bad-week
tales. And we talk about how much we miss
her still. –His girlfriend says we’re urchins
now. I say to tell her the word is orphans.
My mother used to call me a waif, like Dickens’
characters. We joke about how lost we are.
When my brother starts singing Amazing waifs…
I join in, and we sing at the top of our lungs,
college kids walking by laughing like in a movie
under the crazy, beautiful, ice cold moonshine.
About the Author:
Mignon Ariel King was born in Boston City Hospital, a third-generation new Englander. She holds a Master of Arts in English degree from Simmons College and is the publisher of Hidden Charm Press and Tell-Tale Chapbooks. Volumes one and two of King’s autobiographical poetry trilogy are available via ALL-CAPS Publishing. Ms. King is currently writing a “found book” poetic tribute to Moby-Dick.