by E.F. Schraeder
My hair was half the problem.
Sprigs like wildflowers
shooting across a field
amber and grey strands
of untamed wheat
percolating from everywhere.
Un-inviting, yet once
at a sunny picnic
a stranger bent down,
rubbed my fuzzy leg.
his eager eyes blinking
two question marks.
Standing at the edge of
conversation like a cliff,
I stumbled, at first,
startled by the entitled touch
But then nervousness dropped
and I remembered how to bite.
If life were a hiking trail, you’d tell yourself, Look out.
Don’t fall back, shortcut through the frog habitat,
or tromp your sagging wet feet through the river.
That never pays off. Take a breath at the crest,
let both feet stand like anvils or anchors.
Ignore quicksand praise and forest fire blame.
This life isn’t a birthday party
or spy game. Listen, it’s more like
showing up uninvited, an inspired
yellow bloom in the pavement cracks.
After Ballet Class
Dressing room sweat and gauze covers
those tired, bleeding toes, unwrapped
like worn nubby tools prepped to sharpen.
This place where we huddled and laughed,
smoked cigarettes, ate yogurt, hid
in the bathroom to measure ourselves.
We danced against brittle ideals and clung
to each other with mad first crush enthusiasm
practicing spins, our bodies twirled like pyre flames
torching everything except effort.
Nothing mattered but moments, glimpses
of wild perfect birds, taking flight.
E.F. Schraeder’s creative work has appeared in Lavender Review, Grey Sparrow Journal, Hoax, Haz Mat Review, Between the Cracks, and other journals and anthologies. Schraeder has an interdisciplinary Ph.D. that currently takes up very little room, teaches part time, and enjoys helping grassroots projects raise funds to do cool, good work. Schraeder is also the author of a poetry chapbook and contributor to an animal advocacy blog (www.clawtheory.com). Find more online at www.efschraeder.com.