“Beneath It All” (Pretended Balance)

“Beneath It All”

Beneath it all

Beneath the red over blue sky,
she walks a darkly pitted beam;
immediately below it, gravel.
Still she holds arms out
as if balancing on a high and narrow ledge
in a harsh wind,
pretending.  Pretending too
that she is a little girl; but also
pretending to be older.  Younger
and older both feels cute,
like wearing,with conscious insouciance,
a too-short skirt
over legs that have learned allure.
Sure of the man watching, she
slips, then catches herself,
smiling in mock
relief, the feel of control surging through her
like growth itself.
She has much to learn.


I am posting the above for dVerse Poets Pub Meeting the Bar Challenge hosted by Victoria C. Slotto, for writing with or about balance.  (I think this may have more to do with a pretense of balance.)  

The drawing above is by Diana Barco and is from my book of poems called GOING ON SOMEWHERE,  (by Karin Gustafson, illustrated by Diana Barco).  Or if you have time, check out  1 Mississippi -counting book for lovers of rivers, light and pachyderms, or Nose Dive, a very fun novel that is perfect for a pool or beachside escape.

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21 Comments on ““Beneath It All” (Pretended Balance)”

  1. This strikes me as so true, thank you.

  2. charityv Says:

    It’s true, no matter how much we “grow up” that little girl is there, peeking out at the knees, just below the skirt hem : )

  3. Claudia Says:

    this is so very cool k. – starts with the title – and you capture this sensitive, for balance striving teenage time so well – def. can relate to this – growing up is not easy…

  4. Poignant and lovely – with a simple truth

  5. David King Says:

    Beautifully realised. I could relate this to girls I have known.

  6. brian miller Says:

    pretending only makes us feel good for so long…still much to learn in this one i imagine…the teen years as well, i think would be my most out of balance..smiles.

  7. janehewey Says:

    your use of punctuation in the center … “pretending” through “cute”, creates a sense of striving for balance. I also enjoy your descriptive qualities :the sky and gravel, her mock relief. nice poem.

  8. Mama Zen Says:

    This is spectacular observation. Or, perhaps, memory. Really loved this.

  9. Myrna Says:

    Oh this one is sweetened with youth and spiced with the truth of growing up. I love it. Love the drawing too. A great fit with your poem.

  10. I see this as the challenge we face as we grow older…trying to balance who we are inside with some of the realities and limitations of what we face today. For me, there is a bit of wistfulness and a bit of regret. And we do walk that balance beam throughout our lives. Perfect for the prompt.

  11. Rallentanda Says:

    Thought provoking and a little complex.

  12. Daydreamer Says:

    She has much to learn indeed! I love it!

  13. kaykuala Says:

    It’s a relief! That’s what life is. We try as much to do on a higher level but must be prepared to smile it off if it did not work out right!
    Great thoughts K!


  14. Ruth Says:

    There’s the outer balance, and later the inner… that will dispense with the need for pretense – I like this a lot, Karin

  15. Chazinator Says:

    I really really adore this. That balancing act between consciousness of one’s sensual reality, the allure of leading another along a thin line of attraction/repulsion: all this is simply revelatory to me, a man, at least. There is a strange sense of danger underlying this, a real core of both fascinans and tremendum, which I think is amazing given the very touching picture of a young woman reaching for self-expression.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks so much, Charles. I had another ending – “She has much to learn and will have a hard time of it.” But felt it better to be understated; so I’m glad that more ominous sense still comes through. k.

  16. ds Says:

    Love this. And having just watched the US Women’s Gymanastics team on TV (though they are truly little girls), I take an extra meaning from this. Thank you.

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