Just to Be Clear

I’ll like the South until it’s time to leave. Fingers crossed
it lines up okay, that I don’t hate it before my time is up

and that I don’t stay enamored as I’m driving away.
Do things ever work out so neatly? Lately I’ve been running

away from my safe places. The same bird always attacks
the barrette in my hair when I’m at the cul-de-sac outside.

I swapped that barrette out and it came for me again,
a bundle of pale feathers and rage, even with my dull brown

alligator clip. I jogged back home in my broken sandals.
And I’ve learned too late that I’m not really an expert in things,

not myth, or sacrifice, or the lead in anyone’s veins.
All I can do is commit to what I think I might owe.

On the street in front of our house my childhood self
is there, still up in the attic, playing paper dolls with all

of her imaginary friends, teaching them how the world
works as if she could have the slightest clue.

Leela Srinivasan is an MFA student at the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin. Originally from the Jersey Shore, she holds a BA in Psychology and MA in Communication from Stanford University, where she wrote a collection of psychological poetry as her undergraduate honors thesis. She currently lives in Austin, Texas.

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