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By Emma Pruitt
At birth, a pudgy face, flushed red with heat and emotion, turns her cheek to her mother’s skin,
Revealing three blights, mulled wine stains beneath the skin, a permanent mark of change.
From one to ten years, silent and wraithlike drifts an invisible girl with sky-wide blueberry eyes until,
at eleven years, the smile of a sunshine boy reveals her, and she blooms like a flower in spring-change.
From twelve to fourteen, a rotating wardrobe of molasses-sweet pink, rappers’ chains, and inkwell
Eyes, before settling on a happy-medium of monochromatic grays, an end of the cyclical change.
Fifteen and sixteen are black, purple, brown, pink, red hair rotating like a chameleon’s skins to fit the bipolar chemistry of who she was. “Who am I?” bored with the same old thing, ready for change.
Seventeen brings migrations to the local tattoo parlor, where the needle in your compass points
And the needle in your skin confirms that the smell of antiseptic and ink means bright sparks of change.
The eighteenth year brings faded ink and a loneliness like star-gazing in the quad at 2 a.m. on a navy
Arkansas morning, and when salt water freezes on your skin, the sky chides, “Don’t cry. It’s just change.”
Nineteen returns the wraith-girl, still blueberry-eyed but with lips sown shut and dust in her lungs, and
Emma, though whole and complete in meaning, is scattered and fragmented like so much spare-change.