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Van Morrison

the pretty girls always had blue eyes
and mine were Coca-Cola brown.
while my mother chirped over how my ponytail curled and bounced
I secretly longed to be California blonde,
hair falling unwaved to my shoulders.
it was second grade
when I first realized I wasn't cute
that my teeth were awkward and my arms too skinny.
it was second grade
when we first started to notice
the differences between ourselves-
and act accordingly.

things don't change much
from second grade to sixth:
separations begin and spread,
attempted friendships splinter,
pretending other reasons but knowing that it's simply
one of us was more beautiful than the other.
helping me dress for sixth grade promotion,
my mother sings, "let me take a picture! you look so pretty!"
and I humor her but don't believe her
because she's my mother and she has to say things like that.

twelfth grade, and my best friends still have blue eyes.
twelfth grade, and I’m still trying to measure up.

ten years from monkey bars
I am sitting on my bed,
eating goldfish crackers and watching myself in the mirror when
“Brown-Eyed Girl” comes on the radio.
I lock eyes with my reflection and realize
I’m pretty.

22 January 2002