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Still, She Chooses Sleeping Beauty

When I’m lucky on Friday and Saturday nights, I read my niece one or two or three books. On each of those nights, not just the ones in March, I choose books thoughtfully. The characters look like her and sound like what she could be. Those books are stolen video time between the static photos of Barbies and princess costumes. The irony is not lost on me weekly, not just the week when we celebrate International Day of the Woman, that even carefully chosen text is as much white noise as any other. I’m left wondering about who owns the dream, when still she chooses Sleeping Beauty.

“That could be you. You see. I know you can draw that,” I add extra excitement to my voice. (1)

I know you. I walked with you once upon a dream.

The low hum of the song settles over my doubts. I probably don’t. Each history almost shared-usually buried in the self-doubt of one or the fear of many. But, I want to know you, especially because I want her to know you.

“Your Ima does your hair like that. It’s so cute!” And I don’t add what I could say about books and possibilities. (2)

I know you. That look in your eyes is so familiar a gleam.

The words wind through my own little girl hopes. A slick sparkle of scratched mirror glass. My line etched palms. Dirt dug in doesn’t show up in darkness the way it does in my lightness. The light in your eyes, who lit it? Who are you listening to? What do you see? What do you hear? When your dad believes you don’t. . .

“Are you tough? Would you win?” Not sparkle, nor pink dress, but I inserted another kind of competition just the same. (3)

And I know it's true that visions are seldom all they seem.

More like photos. Real reminders of the choices. The hair color. The clothes. The untold and the mixed histories of the women who have no name and the women who are falsely claimed as someone else’s something else. I had added the competition in an afterthought, or simply unescapable in womanhood. Why did I not just stop at tough?

“Would your cake turn out? Do you prefer the pink or blue dress?” I must settle for asking instead of, “Are you like someone like this? Which do you like?”

But if I know you, I know what you'll do

I don’t know enough. Not yet. Time is ticking towards a distinct type of spinning wheel.

“Doda, I’m tired.”

You'll love me at once

All the likes that become loves. Like this. Like someone like this. Eyes are closing, readying.

“Doda, I go to sleep now.”

the way you did once

For a few minutes and a couple of pages. For the words speaking over so many voices singing sweetly to her.

upon a dream

(1) “When I Draw a Panda” by Amy June Bates

(2) “One Girl” by Andrea Beaty

(3) “I Am Darn Tough” by Licia Morelli


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