Diagnosis

I never wanted to be a poet.
I wanted to be a child.
The kind that could color
outside of the lines on purpose,
permanent marker stained fingertips
and neon green skies
if they felt like it.
Sometimes even electric purple.
The kind of child that defied gravity
on creaky playground swings
all cares ascending skyward, breath
caught in their front tooth gap. They soared.
They never thought of safety.
Yet I colored meticulously, memorized my boundaries,
peering out from behind perfectly painted white picket fences
but never brave enough to make friends
with the neighbors.
Or cross the street.
Or check the mailbox.
I chose my words
like Sunday outfits, and I was a Martian
on the Moon.
Only pale blue skies on my planet,
clinging onto those rusty chains
never loosening my grip on reality,
always so tight my fingers bled.

I never wanted to be a poet.
I wanted to be free.
But here I am,
and I live in the words
that live in me.
I cross the street.
I check the mailbox.
I let the neighbors know I love them.
Love
is not an occupation, nor a defect,
but a condition
of the poet.
Of the child who cannot cross
without looking both ways.

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