The scent of my childhood lingers.
Wrapping around yet another first day of school,
chalk dust and possibility,
smeared graphite and erased mistakes.
The feel of dust-covered fabric between my fingers.
Crossed-legged in the attic, pulling out old jerseys
that used to fall below my knees, when goals meant
grass in my cleats and balls in the net.
The sound of brass rings hitting glass,
age six with my father by my side,
carnival lights and winning throws and
love that turned into a lavender monkey prize.
The taste of salty tears on my tongue,
hiding under worn blankets that hugged my side
when “family” couldn’t quite grasp tight enough,
when fabric frayed and I unraveled.
The sight of abc’s turning into quadratic functions.
Dreams becoming too small and tearing at the seams.
Gambles for stuffing turning to gambles of sentiment and character.
Blankets crumpled and thrown into boxes labeled “Donations.”
Age fifteen, sitting alone in my room,
dark circles painting my under-eyes to match the shade of the walls.
Trying to knit together old scraps
with loose threads not worthy of a knot.