Wednesday, 13 September 2017

A Study in Contrast

In my tattered yearbook
there is a black and white photo 
that the English teacher shot
with sun streaming 
in through the window,
bathing me in liquid light 

It was a black night 
when my father 
opened the front door,
threatening to leave us,
not just my oldest brother,
his bedroom a grow-op,
his Sunday clothes in the closet, 
outgrown, too confining and tight

I say goodnight 
at my neighbour friend's home
when the curfew clangs;
I meander to my house, 
wishing on stars 

A new friend 
who lives past the town proper,
dares me to shoplift 
after drama class;
perhaps I can find 
a deep-coloured blouse
to cover the scars 

There are snapshots in boxes 
from younger friends' grads 
girls in turquoise and rhinestones, 
boys in bow ties;
I help find my daughter's gown,
a second-hand gem
from Value Village,
a blue velvet number
for $25 all told

Then came convocations
for her first and second degree
she paid full price for her choices, 
walking her own path
in bright pink stilettos, 
assurance tattooed 
on her tempered frame 

September is here
and she is there  
a different small town,
different students 
but somehow their stories
are somewhat the same;

She turns on 
the overhead projector;
through the window 
you can see
the leaves outside 
are turning to gold
September 13, 2017

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