The mimosa bristled pink outside my bedroom window,
its leaves collapsed in the dark, closed like praying hands.
Each summer night I fell asleep with the scent
of it, soft and powdery, clinging to my dreams.
When I was rewriting my days in September
with sharpened number 2s still tagged
with cleanest pink erasers and it was nearly officially fall,
mornings broke wet and chilly,
heavy as a wool blanket left on the clothesline overnight.
By noon the heat would build, would stifle,
so mornings I shivered in shirt sleeves, waiting
beside the dewy green wisteria, past its purple prime.
Uncomfortable in my own new shoes,
still stiff and shiny,
I tried to summon confidence
before the bus arrived.
Sometimes I plucked a feathery mimosa flower and
tucked it behind my ear on the way to the stop.
I imagined myself pretty and exotic, brave for being different,
like a Haight-Ashbury hippy in my red-neck town.
Overhead a single mockingbird
layered one song over another. Romantic that I was,
I began my listening believing
it sang because its little bird heart overflowed
Although I knew it was only borrowing from its nature.
The first notes seemed plaintive for the lost night and dreams;
liquid, fluid, much like my mother gently moving me
into the day and off to junior high.
As the bus topped the hill,
that unctuous bird seemed sharp and shrill,
still carrying on, nagging like a conscience.
Impostor and thief of songs! I left the flower on the lawn,
too soon convinced we were both liars.