I was thirteen when Fran kissed me,
told me I was beautiful,
saw me not
in spite of or because of –
gave me gifts of lace and self-acceptance.
I was eighteen when I first vanished,
the kind where you grab what fits in a backpack
and leave in the night, no
farewells or somedays –
with Fran's lace and an ashy bridge behind me.
I was twenty-two when I disappeared again,
breaking everything if only to break free
bringing lace, not
food or something sellable –
with me into the next life, lived on couches and in cars.
I was twenty-five when I sobbed before a closet,
broken and rearranged into what someone else needed,
dropping lace into a garbage bag, whispering
she loves me, she loves me not –
thinking these were the sacrifices we make for love.
I was thirty-five when I cried again,
now with a smile as I twirled in a hand me down,
my partner peeking their eyes over a book
that's beautiful, will we need more hangers? –
their only concern as I thought of lace.