Perched on the church pew, you
are a discordance of color in a sea
of black and white, but you are disguised.
Notes of the intonating organ
float past your ears. Thoughts roam to
a faraway place called elsewhere,
and there you stir, tepid and restless,
yet still and silent as your father
reaches over and gently touches your knee.
The preacher’s crimson robe ripples
and reminds you of the ocean,
where you once laughed and skipped and splashed
along the shore, gripped your parent’s hands
without hesitation or heed, dug in the sand
with fingers too small to hold question,
instead sifting through streams of happiness
you never needed to hone or contain.
When you were six you were yourself.
Gaze wanders to the mahogany wood
of the podium and pivots you back to when
you stood in front of a crowded classroom, with
your typed out, unfolded, fashioned poem
before your eyes, and as you recited, the words
resounded as though they were a songbird’s trill,
a raindrop’s refrain, a cricket’s chirp, a dove’s cry.
When you were ten you were yourself.
At last, your view settles on the banner
hanging above, with the phrase you are loved
boldly adorning the white, and you think
of how you kissed a girl last week, the taste of
her cherry chapstick on your peach and you wonder
for the hundredth time if what it says still rings true.
Because for the first time in fourteen years
you are afraid to be yourself.
Just as your thigh begins to tremble,
your mother reaches over
and gently touches your knee.
Natasha Bredle is an aspiring young writer and poet. The art and magic of storytelling have captured her since she was little. Her work has been featured in the Dove Tales Writing for Peace poetry anthology, the Paper Crane Journal, and the Incandescent Review. When she isn't dreaming up new ideas to passionately scribble down, she likes to take long walks, practice yoga, and volunteer in her community.