By Cynthia Cruz

Awkward, and almost always the idiot
Savant, mutant, retard, I

Travel my own effervescent weather,
In my underwater

Vessel, my sweet
Mars, and soundless

Daydream, magical sweep of Rimbaudian
Reverie. Always

Clumsy, and guileless, mind-
Blind, and deathly shy,

Winning every spelling bee,
Every math contest,

Done before the rest, finishing
First in science test.

Hiding the quarterly honor-roll awards
I won beneath the bed.

The shame of being
Seen consumes me.

And I fight it back,
A landowner warding off

Leagues of feral thieves,
With fire, handheld torch, burning back

The onslaught. In grade school,
Listening to the same Blondie song in my bedroom, over

And over for hours, days,
For years. No friends

But the one: silent, and sitting
In my head. Running laps around

The house for five, ten, fifteen
Miles, counting

Calories of everything put
Into my mouth—desperate to ward the onslaught

Off. Until I am nothing
But a body.

Burn the body down
And, with it, out goes the pilot

Blue light of the mind.
Everyone said

I was pretty back then.
Maybe, way back then,

Before I began.

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