How To Behave In Airports, Or Be A Flower Instead

The lights in the airport are more white than yellow and too bright
for her tiny globe-sized hazel eyeballs, the ones she rubs sleepily with
sticky, strawberry syrupy fingers, demanding
“I’m not tired! I’m not tired!”

She drags along the stuffed animal that does not resemble any animal in particular,
Fluffy- who in a few years’ time will bear no similarity to his name, when his creased body
marked by her constant grasp, fades to a shade of too many machine wash cycles too many
journeys like this one except different entirely, more familiar than this. Mother’s out of sorts.

Moving forward, swept away by the moving sidewalk, turning her world ever faster, she
embraces Mother’s leg, crumples
the hem on her denim dress, the fabric
thick enough to shield her like it’s past midnight but nothing is wrong

Her own dress is loose in the hopeful way kids’ clothing is, ready for growth, and in its
cotton-linen walls she is floating in air, stepping off the moving track and onto
still speckled tiles and promptly begins dizzying herself in inebriated sways, enchanted
by her elevator music mind

She lifts her fortress dress above her head; she is not hiding from
the lights but merely becoming something else somewhere else where you can become
a flower in the Fresno airport by raising your skirt above your head so that
it is a tulip cup, the most natural evolution, she is inside a flower, she is home

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She insists, will not be uprooted from her natural state, I am a flower
am a flower am a flower she cries stubbornly, refusing Mother’s bribery to coax
her to return to smallness, girlness; overpriced gift store teddy bears are nothing to
a flower who stands taller than any girl in the Fresno airport

Mother says it is not right, indecent to lift up your dress in public, as though
a tulip is clothed without its petal-cups upright and poised gracefully, effortlessly, but Mother
maybe wishes she were more of a flower or maybe she is and wishes she
could stop playing Mother and be her tulip self again

As for the girl, she will
grow into her dresses and grow
out of them too but still none will fit the way
her flower garments will, but she can go along.

She knows the ways the life in her is too big to forget even if
sometimes it hides, protected
under hand-me-down dresses; she will
remember from time to time
she was blooming all along.