Evolution

Sarah Winsberg

2005 Second Prize

There was never a moment when
the infant with the large, round spectacles,
flowered stretch pants, untidy braids
discovered there were certain rules,
certain patterns to be followed
and began to list
the things she ought not do,
to collect her mistakes like small
translucent marbles in a well-polished jar.

No epiphany began the complex mental
tabulations of goodwill,
of income and expenditure,
and the careful weighing and measuring
of the joke that fell flat
or small conversation that transpired
without error.

She has advanced, she feels,
grown more complex,
grasping only now the intricacies
of the sudden surge of guilt and remorse
flooding hotly across the face,
the unrelenting thud of blood behind the forehead,
the desperate desire for silence.

Crawling from the leafy tangle of one jungle,
she escapes into the towering, expanding sprawl
of what she chooses to build for herself.

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