Sunday, September 19, 2010


I love to sit on the picnic table in my backyard and watch the wind blow through the pine trees. I close my eyes and wish I was part of that wind, just invisible and rushing past. Untouchable, silent in the empty spaces, unfeeling, emotionless. I dream I am the wind at night and I lie under my window, watching the pine tree right beside it sway in the window, wishing I could be the wind. I am in fourth grade and I love school, reading, my dog Pepper, my teacher Mrs. Johnson. I have discovered poetry and that I am good at writing it. Mrs. Johnson makes me feel special. Maybe she knows. But how can she see behind my smile? Even I don’t know what is wrong. I don’t have the words for it. So I smile and pretend that life is good.
My body is betraying me. I have to wear a training bra in fourth grade. I hide it from everyone. I’m ashamed because of it. I am illegitimate I hear my mother tell someone quietly. I am adopted, but I am not allowed to tell anyone. It is a dark secret. Another thing I am ashamed of, it puts me down two notches from everyone else. I am not as good as the rest of the kids in my class. They don’t know, but I do. I’m not worthy to learn with them. I am illegitimate. I am adopted. I am ashamed.
I spend a lot of time with my poetry journal and the picnic table and the wind and trees. I feel a deep sadness inside. I am loved by my family despite being illegitimate. I have friends despite being illegitimate. I go to church and ask for God’s forgiveness for being illegitimate. I do not feel forgiven. I feel a terrible burden that grows deeper each day and no matter how hard the wind blows, it doesn’t empty me of that word. I am defined by that word and I am less of a person than others, simply by that word. And my mother uses it to describe me.
The smile stays plastered to my face. No one suspects my shame. No one suspects my need for perfection is driven by a need to be on the same tier as my peers. But that A, only brings recognition that I do not want, it points to the illegitimate child. I only want to be equal, not noticed. I have a need to be invisible, unnoticed.
And again, my body betrays me. Boys notice my developing body and tease me. I am so ashamed. I wear loose baggy clothing, but it doesn’t hide the fact that I am no longer flat. The girls are jealous and the boys tease. I have nowhere to turn. I am not invisible
I go back to the wind. I feel it on my face. It does not judge. Illegitimate does not whisper on the breeze. Only a sway of trees makes noise. The grass ripples. The trees bend and I finally know the word. I am searching for peace. I have held the knife before while the wind whispered to me, stroked my face with it’s gentle fingers. I have tested it’s sharp blade against my tender young skin. I bleed red, illegitimate or not. I am like everyone in that way. I have my poetry journal in my lap as I slice across each wrist and lie back on the table.
The pine trees whisper with the wind blowing through them, peace echoes through me. The sadness has lifted and I am filled with weightlessness. I become part of the wind and I float away my body on the table, lifeless as it should have been. Never created. Given up. I have given it legitimacy in setting it free. And I caress the trees and the grass shapeless, invisible, emotionless, as I should always have been.


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