She bends into the pool of water with softer expectations.
She has come here to know what the others must see. She wishes to throw off her feathers and know grace. She wants to leave the rippling wake of the Swan. It is not what she sees, but what she feels when she sees it. She drinks deep of herself, pulling down the stones that hold the water back, untying those ribbons that make her simply, “girl,” and she understands these things for the first time:
the shape of her hands as instruments, not locks,
the curve of her mouth as sugar, not starch,
the lilt of her speech as power, not prattle,
the set in her gaze as intention, not ignorance,
and movement of her body as purpose, not presence.
She leans inward, she takes inventory, unearths the wreckage, and blossoms. They will see her differently, now. They must. For she has come to reclaim what she had before not recognized.
I am She.
. . . And i have always been.
I realized my own life force — my own powers.
There was far more in the reflection than a creature with dimples and delectable features. i was no longer a map of fine shapes to plunder. No circles. No Triangles. No lines. No jutties. i was more than a giggle and a hair toss. More than a Mistress and a Maiden. i was something with wings. i was fire and water and magic and truth, and it came from me in waves: out of my fingers, out of the breaths i spoke, out of the voice i lilted and thrust into song, and from the burning tendrils of silken-red hair when i turned to listen.
When the change occurred, they stood watching. Some came to embrace. Some came to crush. Some came to borrow and to bathe. And still some others came to steal. Always, there are those that want to get close for their own intentions. Both come into your night, both come into your Garden to feed on things that grow and fuss, blink and bluster. But some come on white-dusted looms to leave only glitter on your finger when you touch their wings, and some come elusive but gorgeous, with their own space and light, vanquishing dark, green and etherly. But most important the change delivered my sight, my strength to recognize dark moths from fireflies.
I wasted my time kissing villains.
i knew what a lover was but i did not love. i saw it in black and white and red. What i knew of love taught me how to leave one slowly and to tear flesh as i went. i did this only to fill the open mouths, the holes, the digs in my own flesh that were missing. When dark angels move in, you cannot see that under their cloaks are wings and within their wings are pinions and any one feather, small and sable, can be fashioned into a fine dagger or an ink well to scribble their name from head to hip in long red letters the length of your paper white canvas. But wings can be bound, as hands. Or cut. And wounds as words can be sewn and stifled. i allowed few wings to brush my cheek and fewer still, the hands that cut through my skin and left weeping scars.
She leaves the water to the wild.
Silver fish with golden eyes. They must know something about breathing from a mutable element that she does not. How can you drink what can tear down the shore? How can you bathe a sharpened something in a fluid that will tumble a stone, a shard of glass, until it is safely smooth and delicate? What did Narcissus see but an Echo? And what does an echo teach but to love only the song of yourself, though the body shrivels and the bones become stone. A flower is nothing that cannot wither while the eye inside denies this death.
She wishes . . .
to be blind as Tiresias, as the twin thoughts of a soft, penetrable creature; worry and pleasure slither over each other as cool as snakes. And when those mouths open to swallow, to draw breath and blood, when all of love repeats, a tongue can trick. To taste is to suffer, and the resounding “yes i will i can i do i am” doubles back. She swims away into the depths of the next breath, and she leaves a rippling wake. Her feet do not touch the bottom stones and she draws the water, a nectar for nymphs. Her eyes light in golden flame, two suns on the lake, and her skin smoothes out silver, her hands web to fins. She will not crawl wild-eyed, with her fingers in dirt, she will wait underwater for her hands to break and her wings to grow back, and then —