Ash backwards
by Betsy Mars

I hear the shofar singing:
ashes to ashes, dust to dust,
announcing a new year.
The frequency of the sounds breaks the shell of my cocoon of self-      doubt,
I stand on the edge observing

Tentative wings spread wide, still flimsy and muscles stretching.
No longer flattened with atrophy, shielding a fragile core.
Antennae reaching here and there, sensing
Into the possible, relentless

Old ways infiltrate, voices insinuate.
The jobs you didn’t get, the people who abandoned you,
the publishers who rejected you. The insultingly low expectations of
Incompetency, a need for external protection.

Refuting your latent lisp and baby fat, your thick glasses.
Your secret crushes and puberty
full of magnified flaws and hair follicles sprouting.
Hormonal tendrils creeping into your childish freedom,
strangling the breath with strange excitement.

Back in the present, with a new presence of mind,
a new stage with your strong knock-kneed legs sturdy under you,
and your fledgling hopes, and
who are you now:

The product of long-brewing history and genetics,
mystery formulating every second
new, scattering wishes to the ever propelling wind,
and landing on your feet.

IMAGE: “Autumn Song” by Erté (1892-1990).

Betsy purpletips (2)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Betsy Mars is a poet who lives in Southern California. After many years of butting heads with herself she is starting to alter some of her patterns and embrace change. The idea of metamorphosis speaks to her current state of flux.

My daughter took this photo of me when I was first re-entering a period of creativity after emerging from a self-imposed semi-seclusion as a result of coping with some difficult issues in my life. It was the first time I dared to change my appearance in any way that might draw attention, and it started with dipping my toe in–or rather, my hair ends–purple dye.

Photo by Katie Naphas.