by thea marie
Lines: Written entirely in first person and slightly revised
“Color inside the lines, children.
Make your work nice and neat.”
But to my eyes, edges blurred.
The leaves of my trees were real
Natural colors, blended tones
Of greens and yellows, blues and browns.
For me, squares had flat places and depth. Circles were balls.
And the light went clear ‘round each shape,
Not just in places that eyes could see.
“Your work is not good.” I was told.
You are careless, and you are messy.
You have not listened. You must do better.”
In shame, I hid away what I had done,
And did not speak aloud of how I saw.
I only knew that I had gone
Outside the lines, which was not right.
“Keep inside the line, children,
Walk one head behind the other.”
But being small, I could not see
Past the back in front of me.
I strayed a bit to the left
To see the puppets in the case.
To the right was the fountain,
Green-copper turtles spouting water way up high.
“Get back in line.” I was told.
“You never want to listen.”
That was untrue; just could not see
From my place of relegation.
When I walked beside my friend,
To speak together as people do,
I was told, “Your head is hard.”
And shamed, I fell back into line,
Wanting earnestly to be called "good".
“You are a child.” I was told.
“And children do not choose.”
Then what do children do? I wondered.
"Close their mouths, and listen, and follow,
And they do as they are told."
So obediently, I closed my mouth
And kept how I saw things to myself.
I colored in places that were allowed,
And walked where I was told to go.
Thinking to myself in all that time
That I was being very good.
Then a new one came along.
In a new time in my life.
And right after that very first essay paper
It was me, to whom she pointed.
“You are bright.” She said to me. “But sadly, tightly closed.
Too young and smart to hold yourself
so stiffly and so ridigly.”
Dressed in reds, and oranges, and teals,
Her twisted hair like ropey snakes;
Wise eyes of onyx, black and shiny
Overflowing with cascading words, fresh ideas, and tempting challenges
Which I hadn’t ever heard or faced before.
She spoke to me of books, and authors,
And of places I had never been.
Brought pictures, and objects, and talked to us
From her center place in the circle of us
Formed in the blue-green grass.
“There are no boundaries in writing.”
She said to me.
Ideas have no hard edges.
The world is ours to see, and know.
Our eyes, our hands, our mouths have reason.”
“Think.” She told me. “Do not parrot.
There is life on the other side.
There is no wrong in being you.
There is no wrong in saying how you see.”
Drawing myself up, looking again,
I took in the trees once more.
The colors and the tones there still
That once I noticed so automatically.
For a while I strayed
To touch, to know.
And then I began to write
Of the squares with flat places and depth,
Of how circles were balls
With light clear ‘round,
And not just in the places where eyes could see.
I wrote of blurred edges, of the things I saw
And I wrote in the manner in which I’d seen.
“Your work is now good,” She said to me.
“It is freely given from your own heart.
Let no one tell you how to think.
Let no one keep you tight inside.”
He runs to me now at the end of his day
A little boy with his picture.
A masterpiece of hues, and tones,
All mixed together, and straying.
“Teacher said it was a mess.” He moaned, looking up to me.
“Said I was hardheaded and did not care. But this is how I wanted it.”
I smile at him, and pat his head.
And tell him it is beautiful.
I explain to him that it is fine with me
Wherever, however he places his colors.