Bill Livingston


The ladder rested against the library—
leaning like Huck Finn—
defiant against a grand old southern plantation
in disrepair.
Its opening hours fading.
The leaves in the books within,
as dead and unloved as the leaves
on the ground—
rotting as the mountains crumble,
as in an H.G. Wells novel.
Yet trees survive in the park
that embraces the building
like an estranged father
The leaves become earth
after the curtain falls on
their bright colors of autumn,
when they looked like startled peacocks
about to be murdered.
The Spanish tiles of the roof
that protects its history in parchment
are about to disappear under snow.
Some days, the keys to structures and minds
are lost forever.
And sometimes
the sun sets in the wrong direction.


Surrounded by entourage
of stuffed animals—
giraffes, unicorns, the occasional penguin—
Disneyfied reminders
of childhood in the rearview,
she climbs down from her loft bed,
selects a body spray—warm vanilla sugar—
and pirouettes into the perfume mist.
Breasts budding like violets,
pointing towards a future
I’ll no longer control.
A lightning week passes furiously.
Feeling the transition,
she was prepared for the inevitable.
Well-armed by her mother
against the flow of the crimson river.
So grateful it wasn’t on a school day.
As the scent of vanilla sugar hits my nose,
the sight hits my eyes uninvited—
the red in the water.
And I’m the curious little boy again,
discovering my sister’s bellbottoms,
crotch of red, soaking in the tub.
The white lie hits my ears—
I had a bloody nose!
Then the whisper of truth from my wife
as my eyes widen
then well with tears
at the tragedy and triumph of growth.
Now objects in the mirror
are older than they appear.
Time was never my friend.
There’s never enough—
like a daughter’s embrace.
And soon I’ll relinquish that privilege
to an unworthy lover
who thinks I wouldn’t break him
if he broke her rules.
All of the birthday parties and summer camps.
All of the art lessons, guitar lessons,
gymanastics lessons, ballet lessons,
the outrageously expensive dental scaffolding
will become distant memories
as she grand jetés away from the child
whose hand is so small in mine.
Now is she woman.
Now is she woman.
Now is she woman.
Ready to bleed on the battlefield that is this life,

now is she warrior.

© Bill Livingston

Bill Livingston is a poet, humorist, screenwriter and advertising copywriter who has been published in Danse Macabre, Saturday Afternoon Journal, TreeHouse, Flipside, New Verse News, and Radius: Poetry From the Center to the Edge. Originally from Altoona, Pennsylvania, Bill now lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife and twin daughters. He is a supporting member of The Poetry Project and an original member of Brooklyn Poets and Bowery Arts + Science.

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