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There’s a wool-suited spinster
Who lives in my head–
Thin hair in a bun
Pursed lips on her face
Saying, Stop that nonsense at once.
Sternly, of course.

Oh, don’t listen to her
Says the other voice, who looks like me–
The voice I name my true self.
She says the spinster isn’t cranky,
cranky takes too much spirit.
She isn’t even mean,
And come to think of it,
I don’t know her well enough to
Even be certain she is a spinster.
What she is, is disapproving
But colorless—-No heat behind her words
Just a certainty that she must warn me to Stop,
Before I make a Fool of Her.

So, I say thank you to that spinster—
Thank you for letting me be like an old, creased photo
carried in your sensible handbag:
A picture of dreams you abandoned
cut from a magazine, tucked away as a warning,
a reminder of the crazy way you once thought
Of running off to Paris.
Old paper now, limp with age and dank
But carried always, this reminder.

And thank you also, spinster,
for being the faded photo I carry.
Thank you for being my warning
of all I could become,
If I’m careful.

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