Gliding – Anne’s second draft for SST9

15 Jun

When I was a kid I used to play dressing-up.

I was usually a gypsy

in a full skirt pulled over jeans

legs rolled up.

A lot of dancing went on

arm waving

flinging myself from side to side.

We had this big box full of old clothes and hats and pieces of cloth.

One day I pulled out a raggedy brown thing,

all screwed up,

tossed it aside,

but my mum said,

“wait, this raggedy thing used to be a two-piece suit,

straight skirt, peplum jacket,

a ¾ sleeve with tiny button detail at the cuff.

This shabby paint-water rag used to be red wool/silk mix with a slight boucle.

I sewed it from a Butterick pattern when I was 19.

When your grandad saw it, he made me take it off,

said I had to dye it brown.

So I did.

It’s a certain kind of girl wears red, after all.

But this raggedy thing is why I keep this box of clothes

for you to play dress up until you find out who you are.”

On car journeys we would sing

and play I spy.

Once I spied swans and no one believed me,

flying over the motorway as huge as gliding jets.

They seem magnified, and out of scale with us below.

A reminder that nature belongs more than we do,

with our outlandish modes of transportation.

Them flying ‘as the crow’

and us having to follow roads.

I’m sick of following roads

and paths trodden by other people,

in sensible shoes.

Remember the ugly duckling? Maybe that’s me.

Not saying I was ever ugly, obviously!

But somehow I was plain and brown

and maybe a little bit raggedy too.

And now?

Well, look at me!

I’m a swan!

Mind you, white was never really my colour.

And swans mate for life, don’t they?

The less said about that the better.

So do lobsters, mate for life I mean.

I think I prefer their natural hue,

you know, before they get boiled?

That speckledy blue.

Pink is less becoming for a lobster,

or a woman, let’s be honest.

Pink is for all those prissy girls.

I hate prissy girls,

I never wanted to be one of them.

But being me has taken many guises

fitting in and then rebelling turn by turn

leaving me unsure of which is costume which is casual.

So why has it taken me till now?

Why have I looked to a bunch of tawdry queens to point the way?

Envied their attempts at indulging their alter-egos

and neglected mine?

Watched as they pass for women, better than I ever could.

Here’s to all the boys, and girls who’ve been told they can’t go out dressed like that and do it anyway!

Here’s to my mum and her dressing-up box,

encouraging me to do what she had never been allowed to do.

Although, “try not to be too obvious,”

may have served to hold me back.

Maybe obvious is exactly the look I should have gone for all these years.

I mean, I’m an open book in every other way but dress.

Why did I suppress myself?

To avoid the stares?

Now it’s stares that fuel me

and looking like this

I can glide as good as any swan

all grace and power above the surface

hiding all the mechanics down below.

But still don’t try to second-guess me

this could be costume,

this could be real

you’ll never know.

Unless I decide to do a big reveal.

What kind of girl does that make me now?

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