“Apology for Being Small” by Carrie Shipers

Carrie Shipers


I’m sorry I have to touch dirt, grease, just-rolled
noodles drying on the counter. Snot, scabs,
broken birdshells, you with my grimy fingers.
For when we’re in the store and words burn
my chest and crawl in my throat like throw-up
but only screams come out. The kicking is extra
and feels good after looking at bread and tomatoes
when I know there are cookies and toys
you should let me have. The lies that aren’t
very good—about chocolate and wetting the bed—
I know you won’t believe, so I don’t think they count.
The ones about the dog who knows my name
and wants to live with me and my invisible friend
who can fly—those aren’t lies, they’re stories.
I’m sorry I ask so many questions, especially
the same ones over and over. For hiding dirty underwear,
candy, myself inside my treehouse to see how long
you’ll look. I’m sorry for breaking my toys,
the vase you told me not to touch, your skin
with my teeth. I’m sorry my legs aren’t longer, sorry
I can’t keep up, that I have to try so hard to Be good,
Be quiet, Straighten up and behave.
I’m sorry
I cry because I’m scared, hungry, tired, mad.
Because I’m small. Because you don’t remember
what that’s like and I’m afraid that I’ll forget.

from Rattle #35, Summer 2011

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