A scruffy, pouncing, clawing, whiskered thing

It was kiki.

I was sure of it.

But soon after birth

my mom spoon-fed me “kitty,” “cat,” and “kitty cat”

slipping, sliding down taste buds, crawling between teeth, and threatening to spurt out my nostrils.

You see, when my eyes ingested blue, they digested rainbow.

When my mind absorbed plush pink pillows and baby dolls with pin-straight hair, it emitted fantasticdarkofthedeepcoldwavypigmentfigmentpurpleindigo

and kikis roaming almighty like tyrannosaurus rexes.

When my elastic skin bended to a poke

it felt pain

and waves of compressed and rarefied criticism

activated fear and shame and overwhelmed my basilar membrane.

My scruffy pouncing clawing whiskered thing

purred onto plush pink pillows days and nights between my baby dolls and primitive, unruly curls, rays from a heated face radiating questions.

How do they know I like pink plush baby blankets and dolls?

Maybe if they’d asked I’d have spoken of extraterrestrial swirls of sparklefairydustbrightlightteal.

Then they’d stare

eyes wide open

expectedly

for me to twist my tongue and wash down my ration of rationality—

the type they choked on before they learned to swallow

“Don’t do the chicken dance in a pile of stuffed animals.”

“Don’t speak out of turn.”

“Don’t cry.”

“Ducks have two eyes.  Everyone knows that.”  God forbid my kindergarten self saw the duck from a side perspective, from which only one googlie eye was necessary.

“You can’t sleep with the lights on.”  But what if I want to view my dreams in full color?

Can I write a letter to my guardian angels?  “Not now.  Why?  Because it’s bed time.  And why are you asking why all the time?  Some things just are; do you pretend to be dense?  Is it just to bother your poor parents? Why must you speak to figments of your imagination?  Angels don’t exist.”

I do talk to angels and I feel their warm indigo light every moment of every day and night, and you have angels too!  You cannot see the indigo because you’ve been trained to think in purple and blue.

And I dance when there’s no music because my limbs and soul are attached, and my soul sings all day through.

But I could not say that, not then, because I was busy swallowing and spitting out my first animal noises.

I thought cows sounded more like “Rrrrrraaaaaa” than “mooooo.”

That was incorrect.

I read aloud just to exercise my vocal cords.

That was incorrect.

I wanted everything to travel through me, words and numbers, shapes and sounds, musical notes of all frequencies and blocks to build a castle of four dimensions—

Very incorrect.

So

instead of leaping in a bathing suit

I wore a coat to protect me from the rain,

which would make my petals blossom if I were a flourishing rose,

but only drown me if I were the squashable nuisance of a bug I thought I was.

I won’t paint my nails green

when pretty means pink.

I’ll rise and fall from sleep and try not to think

too much–unobtrusive

not in the way

or threatening,

greedy, overflowing, overfed with ideas, or exploding,

no.  Just hollow and eroding.

No longer scolded, I’ll be praised:

little teacup lady with her pinky raised.

To eat forbidden fruit was to die and fall.

I wanted rebirth as a tree

empty and unreachably tall.

So as not to challenge or offend

I made pretend

I didn’t have this body claiming space in a crowded world

a nose that bended, locks that curled.

My hair was ironed flat.

My stomach was flat.

My voice was flat.

My soda was flat.

And I was flat.

And I’d be so flat I’d squeeze into any situation, get lost in any crowd, and in moments of inarticulation, wave past the face of a stranger

try on her mask to hide me from danger

all the while to hide my eyes, pinned to the floor

surreptitiously searching for more.

And eventually

after some searching they peered upward

to feel sun mixed with vicious rain, the kind that regenerates unruly curls no matter how many times they’ve been flattened

so that the tongue radiates questions

the ears absorb answers

and the mind drinks them all in

after toasting to life, because to live ain’t a sin.

Living’s not pretty pink.  It’s green and teal and indigo and jumping in piles of stuffed animals like it’s FAO Shwartz

and reading your own language out loud, really loud!

It’s writing animal noises on crinkled-up paper

trying green tea ice cream, candied flowers, and capers

so don’t let yourself crush your self.

Even though

there will be a collision

between what you envision

and what you fear, just listen

to the oomph coursing through our hands

because the only danger is being a stranger,

your very own soul a strange land.

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