In that aging auditorium, all scuffed linoleum and hairline
cracks lacing faded walls, my stretching bones zinged
a xylophone of pain from ankle to hip while music bloomed,
kaleidoscope of whirling purples, dervish greens,
blazing reds and kissable pinks, bluebells and poppies,
mustard weed and day lilies dancing in yesterday’s meadow,
bobbing their bright heads, torn clouds ripping a cerulean sky.
Where else could I lose myself but in those notes, curving
and turning like a murmuration of starlings? No place
to hide in a bunk full of girls. Puberty, that fiendish puppeteer,
jerking our hormonal strings. Girls caught in the timeless time
between tossing balls and grabbing jacks in ones, twos, threes,
fours, and training bras, pit hair, that first rusty crust
of menstrual blood staining our panties with red shame.
Every night, I’d ached with loneliness, abandoned on day one
by my once-best friend, and yet, wasn’t God always there—
in the dust crawling up my legs, in the bees chorusing along a spill
of lemonade, in the sun freckling my shoulders, and now, weaving
patterns of B flat, C minor, F sharp into a technicolor symphony,
crescendoing behind my eyes, a cascading river of consolation
in which I bathed, alone, but not alone?
Elya Braden is a writer and mixed-media artist living in Ventura County, CA, and is an editor for Gyroscope Review. She is the author of the chapbooks, Open The Fist (Finishing Line Press, 2020) and The Sight of Invisible Longing (Finishing Line Press, 2023). Her work has been published in Anti-Heroin Chic, Prometheus Dreaming, Rattle Poets Respond, Sequestrum, Sheila-Na-Gig Online, The Louisville Review, and elsewhere. Her poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and Best New Poets. She can be found at www.elyabraden.com.