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If I Were Jane Elizabeth
by Ginna Wilkerson

If I close my eyes, I can see a little girl
perched on a garden chair, listening.

Curling metal leaves
mingle with vermillion green
in a child’s sun-filled garden of
read-aloud wonders living
in a weathered red storybook.

A woman’s voice —  a curious child
showered with magical words.

Becoming Jane Elizabeth,
the sacred inhabitant of story-world,
befriending the bad-tempered hairy
horror of a trapdoor spider —
a wee girl sitting on the flagstones,
mesmerized by the bravery of
Jane Elizabeth as she springs alive
from the well-worn lines of prose.

Hers is the courage to hear a talking
cricket on a fear-dusted night hearth,
to rescue a katydid from feline death,
to leave the summer behind without tears.

Hers the confidence to pick flowers
on her own birthday and present them
to her untouchably perfect mother.

IMAGE: “Eve” digital art by Ginna Wilkerson. Photo in center taken in Kentucky, about 1961.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: As a shy little girl, I had a hero in my favorite storybook named Jane Elizabeth. I wanted to be courageous and outgoing like my wee hero, and to win the approval of my beautiful and talented mother.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ginna Wilkerson completed a Ph.D. in Creative Writing at University of Aberdeen in 2013, also the year of publication of her first poetry collection, Odd Remains. She received a 2012 Poetry Kit Award for the poem “Dimensions.” She just completed a YA novel and her second poetry collection.