On that morning,
in early June,
I knew I had arrived.
Baby bird eyes squinting at four a.m. light,
a familiar feeling:
“Oh no…what did she do?”
I rolled over
with a pillow hug
into a place I had never been before.
A tornado night that blew Dorthy and Toto from Kansas
into a new realm of Oz.
The lions, tigers, and bears of old
with their notorious daily attacks
of “not enoughness”
were replaced by a modulated voice of gentleness.
New pitches of kindness
welcomed my crazy antics
in the arms of endearment.
With hand-on-head humor,
forgiveness rained down—
adoring eyes of mother to child;
anger trumped by goddamn cuteness.
The kind where your lips turn upward
head shaking with charmed disbelief,
relentless unconditional love,
just because she woke up again.
to the Pop-Tart story of shame,
rewoven into magic healing moments
And so the story goes like this…
She never liked Pop-Tarts that much.
And yet an industrial box lived in her cupboard,
leftover from the Airbnb guests
who also were “non Pop-Tart lovers.”
Well-entrenched in a “social season,”
she had no time for grocery stores.
Life was too full of living, loving, and laughing
The only sustenance in her bright sunny apartment
covered in quotes and plants named Mary
after the virgin,
was an oversized box of Pop-Tarts.
Consumed only in the dark
after one or five too many libations
because she always forgot to eat
until she remembered,
and there were the Pop-Tarts
Like an old friend you don’t really like
but you’re lonely, so you call.
These patterns repeated until only two silver packages remained.
“Not tonight!” she said,
before she went out on the town,
winning this game
once and for all.
Her strong hands of conviction
opened the cabinet
and with a smile of satisfaction
she walked the stale strawberry tarts to the trash.
But not just her trash can—
“that girl” was known far too well.
She would complete the mission down the hall;
the community trash can
would be the new home of the final two infamous tarts.
She threw them to fate,
jumped on her bike like a stallion,
riding out into the city lights.
And like every other night,
she came home, with a growling stomach or maybe a just growling mind.
With no shame,
she crept down the hallway
to the community trash room
with secret hopes that the Pop-Tarts were still alive.
Looking down the gray garbage can hole
right where she left them
the almost empty box of Pop-Tarts
She justified the rescue operation,
and saved the year-old stale strawberry gems.
Crumbs were the only evidence,
except the memory
Baby bird eyes squinting at four a.m. light
but there was no more shame,
for that little Pop-Tart stealing girl
and it was in that moment
she had arrived:
Inner critic freedom.
There must be hope for us all.
To be saved
into new paradigms
of unconditional love and self-worth
year-old stale strawberry Pop-Tarts taken from the trash