In the gaze of the other

"My mistress' eyes are nothing…"

“To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before…” 

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The women who have unfolded life to me, staid songs all,
mother, grandmother, sisters, neighbors, friends, “some girl”  
and poets with words that floated my time through trouble.
Some few I obeyed, with others I played, and others still
I listened to, cried with, cried over, watched, watched over,
dreamed with or about in silent admiration but under cover.
All were so much more women or girls than me in all ways
But how to compare? An endless envy I kept hush in place, 
and sometimes in pure pleasure of the witness and stare.
My sisters, blood, life and ancestral lines laid open, bare,
for a life time, bonded by parents, their words and deeds,
a clan of ever entry, acceptance, toil, care, planted seeds.
Unlike them at all yet so much part of them, nonetheless, 
a neighbor calling my sister’s name at me, all dark brows
sparse thick hair embracing eyes hazel gold, hazel brown
and deep chocolate of our mother and father’s x’s and y’s.
We share a lingo and secret codes, a joke, heirloom ties
but not our dreams or destinations, only occasional days
lunch together for birthdays, breaking bread on holidays
and our parents’ care til they disappear from days above
our visions so carefully cultivated in long despair and love.
Each carries a piece of them in a glance, a coiled up tress,
a corner of a smile, a glint in the eye, a gait, the gawkiness,
an agility or stomp, a chuckle or optimistic smile or a frown 
dart of the shooting lookaway or a shuffle in the step down.
We laughed together at each other, appearing like friends.
Boyfriends and husbands have come and gone, bookends, 
children were born who had children who we all adore too 
as us, part of our tribe, our lineage of so strong women who
love, are loved and are love, the kind through a mother flows
who showed it in her doting cleanliness of spotless clothes
and insistence on politeness, disciplining by guilt imposed  
savagery we practiced among us, the untidiness of a home .
We were wild weeds growing among the crab grass alone,
the trees that our mother planted alongside shrubs in rows 
and the lawn she lay so many years ago seeded still grows.
Our destinies are tied though we drift ever apart as we age
and memory and the loss of connection as we disengage
remove to the space of living within as we live out carrying
out the business of breathing and working and soon dying
just like our foremothers behind us staring with thick brows
watching us dance, fret, forget lines, and take our final bows.

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