the traveler, starting young

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I never was in so much trouble
as that time I vanished down the tracks,
losing sight of the afternoon,
small shoes balanced on the ties,
walking into evening between the rails

even at that age I could name goldenrod
and dog rose, Queen Anne’s lace and sumac –
could pick out moths from butterflies –
but had not yet discovered the word
for that unrelenting itch to wander

but mother knew the word and four miles later,
I was spanked all the harder
for the future loss of her daughter
who would disappear along the tracks
to find solace down some dusty road

© Sarah Whiteley

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Hair.

I. Don’t. Cut. My. Hair.

-well, except for maybe
a little trim now and then,
but not so’s you’d notice-

It’s been two decades
since I s(h)aved it all
and (s)hoved it all
in that /hateful/ boy’s face
two days before the prom
and (it along with) my sharp-
boned shoulders (s)ticking above
that dress /bluest blue for
truest true/ made me look like
love’s refugee escaped
to the other side of the fence.

Mother took the picture anyway.

After a year of getting
my fuzz petted and patted
(feels better than you’d guess-
it’s how I learned I purred)
I donned again my Samson’s face
-now with breasts, but minus the dress-
and I. Don’t. Cut. My. Hair.

© Sarah Whiteley

Props to my mother, who really did take that picture anyway. It’s a wonder she didn’t drink.