The Me That I Could Be - Kaley Arnof

I had to chase her,
not just a block or two
but the whole length of the city-
I ran past the ruins,
through the stream of tourists
all flashing their cameras at
the Mighty Beast that is
The Colosseum.
I barely noticed the golden orbs under my ears
dancing madly in the harsh midday light.

I found her:
The me that I could be,
and at first I didn’t recognize her.
My makeup was smudged and dripping
down my salty face
as I stared her up and down-
picking apart every eyebrow hair that needed plucking.
“I’m reading Faulkner, I go on nature walks, and I dance competitively.
I simply couldn’t be happier in Albany.”

I don’t think she was lying,
Not for a second.
Yet even as the words entered my ears,
I felt a thought eating up each word,
Growing fatter from every boastful line.
The thought, I could call it mine, was chuckling,
The deep-hearted gurgle of a large middle-aged man
With one too many cocktails rushing through him.

I cried when my mom told me we were moving.
Enormous, overly dramatic tears
That I thought might change her mind.
But that day,
As I stared into
The me that I could be,
I understood why my mother stood and watched her baby girl cry.
An awful cry with snot coming down her nose and a face like a rotten tomato.
My mom did nothing because she saw her: The me that I could be.

I knew I had The me that I could be cornered
With one question.
I could strip that smug grin right off her naturale face.
“How have you changed?”
She would stare at me blankly, maybe cry a little
With snot coming down her rotten tomato face.
I walked away from her without the last word.