Thursday, August 3, 2017

good girl

It is like I am little,
And Ma is encouraging me—instructing, really—
To hand over Hungry Hippos—my favourite game—
to the little boy in the drawing room who wanted it.
He's smaller than you, she says, he wants it so
—I can hear him crying, it's brightly lit out there—
Be a good girl and give it to him.

I did, but I don't remember that bit. It
Didn't seem to matter if he was grateful.
I wouldn't have been allowed to throw a fit like that, the brat.
I only remember my mother's urging, be good.
Alright, I must have thought. If she's sure.

I'm told I'm an accommodating type. My family
Would laugh at that, but my friends do agree—
That lesson has stayed. I will do almost anything
To be thought of as good. I will learn, keep on learning,
What good is.

It sounds fine, but there are key points when
To be thought good by the most people is a failing:
To intervene in a popular instance of bullying.
To never explain how angry you are, and why.
Even hungry to be patted on the head by those I love:
Like a dog—even if they are wrong, they are the masters
Of biscuits, the controllers of the ball.

Not my parents any longer, they will object. Like most kids,
I've gone through the rebellious phase; any principles but theirs,
I seem to have vowed. Unluckily for me, there were always
Others to love and put in their place.
Most would say luckily, I know.

I am holding the Hungry Hippos box, already packed up for giving,
And only the pleading look is left to me. Since then I have had
Much more to keep than I had to give away then; I tell myself
I haven't the right to question whether selfishness might have been
The better course. And of course, I haven't the courage
to pat my own head and take the consequences.

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