As soon as I showed signs of rebellion—
drinking, missing curfew, talking back—
my parents sequestered me to my
second story room where, in winter,
I could see my breath. It was an exile I came to love:
four windows, the moon peering like a voyeur
through pink floral curtains—so far—
yet close enough that I could steal its light to sketch.
In summer, a small window fan chopped my friends’
voices from the streets below, drew up that second flight,
a light breeze, so I could breathe.
When the smell of dinner wafted up the stairs,
I trudged to the kitchen where my stepmother,
sipping tea, said, No one wants you here.
Back in my room, I sketched John Lennon—
imagined that he’d written “Mother”
just for me—and Marilyn Monroe,
another girl left by her mother who made me think,
someday, I might see my name across
a marquee. But at sixteen, freedom
and fame were as distant as the stars.
So, I stole a Valium—yellow and round—
from my stepmother’s jewel box, held my breath
and swallowed it down, then lay across
my bed spread, drawing the moon.