Lynne Handy, “Girl Talk”

Retired librarian Lynne Handy devotes her time to writing poetry, flash fiction, and novels. She co-founded Open Sky Poets, a collaboration of poets in the western suburbs of Chicago, and her work has been published in several journals, including Clementine Unbound. She lives in a river town in northern Illinois with her two rescue dogs, Schatzi and BoPeep.

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Girl Talk

This girl is telling me her story, blue eyes
sparkling, half of her hair dyed bright red,
this petite grandchild of mine. No makeup,
totally unlike her Facebook page
where she lines her eyes and rakes
mascara on her lashes, where she makes guppy lips
like Angelina Jolie.
Now, no makeup, she wants me to hear her, and
I listen as she talks for hours—
I feel her energy in my old bones—
she’s saying, this is the real me.
No parent translating.
I fear the world, she says. I live in an area
where guns go off. I won’t go outside unless my brother
or stepfather goes with me—my stepfather who cradles me in his arms
when my mother yells, “Joe, Lacey’s got her heart broken again.”

The future is scary, she says. She’ll soon finish high school
and she could have applied for a scholarship to some college,
but she tells herself, okay what if I do that
and find out that I don’t want to go to college—
what I really want to be is a cosmetologist.
I want to make women beautiful.
I’m proud that I’m a woman.
I’m bisexual, Grandmother. Does that bother you?
I am utterly swept up in her story: She could tell me she was a giraffe
and I would say, “Wonderful—it’s good you know who you are!”

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