Meditation on Adolescence
She sat on the floor cross-legged,
knobby knees encased by denim, protruding
too far from her body like branches that forgot to stop
growing after the tree has died. She wore
mismatched fuzzy socks, a blue t-shirt preaching
WALK THE WALK, a phrase she pretended to understand.
She considered what it means
to be a teen in the twenty-first century. She
wondered if her mother or her mother’s
mother wondered if ugly words were true,
if they ever felt that youth was torture, if they
were ever curious about who the hell they really were
beneath the acne and the makeup and the hair gel.
She wanted to turn herself inside out
like a t-shirt ready for the wash, to proclaim that
the inner SHE was the better SHE,
that WE is just another word for “other people like me,”
a word spoken in the meanness of youth and the hard
edges of friendships that drift and change and shatter.
She didn’t know if she was sitting for prayer or meditation
or contemplation or simply for the silence of being
between ages, disconnected from the child, rejected by the adult.
She suspected that being a teen looked a lot different
for her mother and her mother’s mother because they,
still wanted to be young.
Editor’s Note: The casual narrative voice of this poem deceives the reader into believing that it’s about one person: a teen girl. In reality, the poem is about three generations of women. The older women’s voices abruptly arrive in the last three lines of the poem, strong and startling.