Poetry by Farah Lawal Harris

Back in Time (Revised 7-16-08)


why can’t rain be cotton candy
and thunder be gumdrops
and clouds be licorice
and lightning be lollipops?
i just want to stick out my tongue and be pleased
i just want to eat sweets
but i don’t want the rain,
i don’t want the insane and i don’t want
the mundane i just
want.
there’s a blank following that statement
because the blank represents
that which i do not know.
i wish i could grow
as quickly as my hair
but with each five minutes added to blow-drying
i find myself crying
and upset over the same things.
people talk about life and the joy it brings
but all i can think about is me and the song i want to sing.

am i selfish?
if i am, i can’t help it.
i spent so much of my life neglecting me
that sometimes
i walk past mirrors and ask
“who is she?”
and then i look back
and observe parts of myself i never knew were there.
you know those dreams when you’re naked
or standing in your underwear
while everyone around you is covered?
i feel that bare when i’m awake in front of others,
maybe overexposed to past lovers,
or maybe still hurt by betrayal from past brothers
or sisters or friends
but the innocence in me has gone
and it takes a while before i can play pretend again.

i wish i were five, i wish i were truly alive,
not just on auto-pilot like a drunk pilot
who gives announcements without thinking
or considering the lives he’s risking.
let’s pretend!
let’s play on the monkey bars,
let’s even roll in the dirt
and wear down our jeans at the knees.
mama might get mad but she’ll understand
that it’s normal for children to play freeze tag.
chase me without the intent of hurting me.

let’s hide and go seek our identities,
our own persons,
find ourselves and tap them on the shoulder
and shout “you’re it!” to make them real.
let’s engage with our future selves–
stare them in the face and admire the bumps and bruises,
admire the smoothness
in places that are rough now,
and the sagging
in places that are firm now,
and the wisdom
from things that are learned now.

life is kind of serious sometimes
maybe that’s why it’s hard
to locate my childhood mind
i wish i could press rewind
and reverse and stay
back in time.

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