How I Wanted to be Beautiful

Leaping with arms raised
to save a goal.
Standing firm and tall
at first base.
Moving a cleat through
the red infield dirt.
Pressing the spiked sole into
soft soil and seeing
divots look back at me.
Proof I could make a mark.

I didn’t want to be a boy
but I wanted to be
treated like one.
Bolt of thunder
free from hairclips,
dresses and dolls.
Pride for what I did
and not how I looked.

I didn’t feel like a girl either.
I felt like one of the murky-rooted
cottonwoods at the edge of the creek,
a lake shining in sunrise,
air just above an oak at the crest of a hill.

Shimmering, I pulled up my roots
every morning. Put on t-shirts
and went to school where I
prismed into a thousand veins of light.

Later came the trying to fit in.
Slicked-back hair and
low cut shirts. Wanting to be
beautiful and chosen.

But early on I knew the best
beauty came among
trees and green rivers
and no need to be
perceived as anything
but a body among bodies,
no thought towards
what I wore or who saw.

Originally published in The Green Shoe Factory