Myth of the Perfect Girl
I reached perfection by age twelve,
but no one noticed. Perfection
happens everywhere, all
the time not knowing itself,
perfect like dirt, like a squid,
perfection under wraps, enspelled,
swapped with changelings,
forced to live a goblin life,
hidden under veils, sometimes buried,
too precious, thrown in a pond to keep,
treasure only worth its legend,
perfect glimmer in the dark.
Once, I was every saint,
had a map for every step,
bought the magic, bookworm amateur
armed with a pen and a timid knock.
Perfect, I watched others transform,
fall into ruin when they ate the magic beans.
I watched for the color change, texture
shift, the red marks and wild looks,
the smirking and escaping, the finding
a hundred ways to break their shells.
When I was perfect, adulthood
was the land of broken dreams.
A witness, I swore to never get fat,
never have kids, never marry.
Perfect, I signed my name on every page
through my School Days book. Perfect,
I saw no reason I might change.
Perfect black and white shapes
cast perfect shadows, make perfect sense.
I tell myself, I’ll never make that face, never
eat the whole cake, won’t wear that, will not–
but then make the face, eat the cake, wear the dress,
those shoes, get in the car, go for the ride. Fall.
Perfect falling. Blossoms descend just so.
Christine Stephens-Krieger finished her MFA at WMU and published a bunch of poems in the 90s. Her awards include first place in the Macguffin Michigan Poet Hunt and the Dyer-Ives Poetry Competition. She also appeared in the anthology The Prepress Awards Volume II: Emerging Michigan Writers. She submerged after that, raised a child and taught herself to paint. Now she’s written a new book of poetry called What a World, What a World: A Life in Poems. So far in 2019, YES Poetry and Dime Show Review will publish poems from this collection.