Updated: Sep 10, 2018
Flypaper Sticky Grateful
“Take what you're given and be grateful” came from small town Miss America with vases full of flowers
while greedy kindnesses insincere were muttered behind burning eyes
from the dry-cleaner and banker who recognized her bearing and dripped hunger.
Those words were easy for her, house built around gifts from men, married or not. She tucked away the small teal smudge
moving through the day, a shadow
that carried half her genes but none of her natural entitlements. dodging words and eyes, building castles of garbage in unfinished basements.
Words stick, like sickly yellow flypaper hanging in the barn door. You're not wearing that, are you? Men don't like smart girls. Maybe if you smiled, stood up straight, combed your hair, ironed your shirt-- if you were different. Maybe you'll find the right kind of boy, someday?
The right kind of boy was the goal. It would have to be a boy selfish for take what you get grateful the kind of boy willing to trade beauty for my low-expectation and refusal to need.
The kind of boy who would build his separate life, on the rounded shoulders of a plain girl who was trained to hide thoughts and swallow dreams through insincere smiles from an ironing board. A smudge that planned, and sometimes paid, for separate vacations in quiet resignation.
Flypaper sticky grateful for a house without flowers is a hard concept to swallow, but with a few huge gulps of wine it goes down, but only on days when castles of garbage are built in imaginary places while whispering true hopes to the dogs.
The smells of baked hot-tempered breeze and warm pine rise from asphalt; too early for sagging, I haul myself by the patch of grass damp with fishy ditch water evaporating in waves. One foot slapping behind the other.
It smells like summer, another season slipping away without a flag on the horizon to look towards, or, perhaps, just without.
Slumping in the office chair wrapped in the anesthesia of air conditioning I wait, desiccating in the manufactured cold, because I've forgotten how to rise, or perhaps, just live.
The smooth edge of the oatmeal spoon bites into the worry spot I've chewed into my right upper-lip and my skin looks yellow in fluorescence.
Hunger, persistent and nagging, pokes from beneath skin with urgency to plant a flag on the horizon. But, I've forgotten everything but the biting spoon and, perhaps, the unexpected summer cold.
Wendi Clouse, after earning a doctoral degree in educational leadership, research and policy at the University of Colorado, has returned to her undergraduate roots in creative writing to produce a body of poetry, which explores the complex and often hidden life of women. Her work has recently been featured in The Whisper and the Roar, A Feminist Literary Collective. She can be found, sometimes, lamenting the state of the world and the condition of her psyche on her hatchling poetry site: eggcornblog.wordpress.com or on Twitter @stateofcake.