I raised you here, you know. Your hands on my rungs, your feet on my dirt, your eyes on the highest swing. I watched as you let Mason kiss your hand under the slide in exchange for his Easter Candy. I listened as you told everyone you’d name your first daughter “Britney” because 1) “Hit Me Baby One More Time”* made up your entire music library and 2) There was no way you’d make someone else deal with a name like Robiny. I felt you grinding rocks and scraping knees and pushing Benjie against the fence and going to the Principal’s office.
I decided not to tell you about what was out there. Sometimes you’d peer through the chain link and see moms driving cars and nannies walking dogs and men doing yard work, and you believed life worked like a little cuckoo clock. For my little girl, I held life to your rhythm. I contained your heartbreaks and creative geniuses and your huge little mind.
And now you’re back.
I guess I knew you’d be here eventually. Even if your hands have lost their grabbing calluses, your mind still swings like I taught it to.
But darling— the bell rang. Didn’t you hear it? Here you are, still, on my monkey bars. Aren’t you tired? You can’t just hang here like you used to. You’re heavier now, unpracticed. You ignore everyone else carrying their suitcases inside tall buildings to learn Ff: Frog, Fish, Fly, Flag, Freedom, Follow, Follow, Follow. I am not your world anymore, sweetheart. I let you go a long time ago when you started wishing you didn’t have the safety of a lunch box.
But you stay, hanging with two hands on one monkey bar. Watching the next monkey bar. Afraid of the last monkey bar. Too scared to lose momentum, yet too tired to reach.
I’ve seen many like you, trying to bring the world to me. Hallucinating love in each progressive gymnastics ring, afraid to let go of the last before grabbing the next. Dreaming of going all the way around on the swing, but never trying. Wacing acwoss wope bwidges ovuh LAVA and kwocdiles and upsidown lightening.
Let go and stand in the lava. Lose your momentum. Shake out your hands.
This is not your place anymore.
*Because you know you want to: Britney, Bitch