Good start of the week to all. Here I am in front of my laptop, writing. Writing a blog post and not the next great novel, but I am writing and I’m taking that as an inch forward.
The poem I selected to look back on for today’s post, was written very early on in my Instagram poem sharing experiment, one or maybe two years ago.
I wrote this poem at Occidental College sitting behind an iron fence, on a dark green bench, looking out at the school’s track, while waiting for my daughter’s track meet to begin. I would arrive, purposefully, very early to all her meets. At least 2 hours because I liked the quiet of that campus, the trees, the benches, especially the view of the track, with its burnt rust colored track, large green expanse, hearing the chinkclinkclack of the hurdles being set up, the grass being mowed, the sprinklers.
It took me back in time to when I ran round and round on college tracks. The hard pain of sucking in air through lungs that burned, face solid and expressionless while one’s legs churned through runner paces of quick, light, powered pushes of speed. It almost felt, at times, that I would lift off, take off, go up and away. That feeling, alone, is why I ran.
At the track, eighteen year old me was an embarrassment to my close-knit, glamorous, female centered family. I sweated. I smelled. My hair was in disarray. I breathed heavy. I looked like dust.
They never came to see. Tracks aren’t shopping malls with cute boys, fried fast foods, and plastic containers of sparkly goop and gob. My female cousins. They ignored my accomplishments. Treated them and me like they never existed, taking my mother along, sometimes, with their beliefs that I was “odd”, “fast”, “ugly”, a “loser”, a “partier”, “selfish” for going away to college and the list goes on and on and on.
One day she came. She escaped her close-knit and clannish ways. She got in her car and drove down the 405. She showed up. All made up. All fancy in her beautifully matched outfit, coiffed hair, perfumed heavily, and wearing a bright pink lipstick.
In addition to the glitter that was my mother, I remember she stood up the entire time I ran. I saw her through the corner of my eye, as I turned each corner of the track, as my legs churned through, lungs burning, as I took flight and was out and up and away.
After, I went to her in the stands. Climbed up the stairs. Folks around her were congratulating her. Fawning over her. Saying this and that. More that, than this, to be honest. I reached her, tapped her on her shoulder, as her back was to me facing her audience and she hugged and kissed me, squeezing me back down to her atmosphere of make-up, matched outfits, combed through hair and perfumed air. My lungs burned more. My eyes welled up as I watched her eyes darting around to see if anyone was watching her actions. Always playing to the audience. Playing. Pretending. Wishing. Dreaming.
But the burning of lungs, the almost flight was real, ma. I don’t have to wish for it. I am.I am. I am.
My flume of escape went far beyond the smeared pink lipstick stain left on my cheek that day in the stands at the track.
That’s what I thought about as I wrote and worked on the above poem, waiting for my daughter’s own track meet. No plastic pink lukewarm smear shows of supposed female solidarity from me to her, for sure. Just a loud-mouthed cheering fool who remembers. what I remembered. And so, I wrote.