Child

by Lorna Frankel

I was the type of child to pull the wings off butterflies:
I threw stones at birds,
Rubbed dirt in my sister’s hair,
And left my mother in tears with my screaming.

I was the type of child to snip the ends off little girls’ pigtails
And ping rubber bands on other childrens’ arms.
I was the Virgin Mary in my primary nativity,
Anointed by tantrum,
And the shepherds were sore afraid.
The teachers whispered warnings come July
And passed me like a hot potato.
I’m sure they had a party when I left.

The truth is different: goody-two-shoes, top-of-the-class,
Gifted.
I was the Virgin Mary, with a blonde halo and
Big blue eyes to make the parents cry.
Ballerina, violinist, gymnast.
At church they said every Sunday
“She’s got the voice of an angel.”
Always punctual, always polite,
Always pretty.

The world does not deal in such absolutes.
I am neither inferno nor seraph
No hurricane, no dove
I am not a terror or a beauty.

I was the type of child who liked to gaze at the butterflies,
to pick the Fibonacci petals off a daisy and
fall in love and ask the wind, “Who? Where? When?”
over and over.
And I like green things and the colour purple,
sleeping, pastels, brightly coloured flowers,
watching birds land and take off again,
and the heroines in Waterhouse paintings.