Once at the Perry Fair

by Tarah Gibbs

a man said he’d paint my name
on a wide parchment for two dollars.
Papa paid; and the man dipped

his brushes into pots, held back his sleeves
then streaked the watercolors that became the shape
of my name, the edges of my face.

R held a bird nested in its crook, eyes closed,
feathers purple, something like a grin
satisfied, home and warm. I never thought

my name could look so pretty, curves
forming tangerine sunrises only Africa
might know, midnights melting snow

deep in Siberia, violet jungle frogs
along the Amazon.  Afterwards, we walked
amid the strange new streets – Papa got lost

twice, cursed – to our sixth house which smelled
of its previous owners.  That night, on my bed,
I unfurled the parchment and pinned its corners with

the floppy foot of my stuffed dog and the spine of an old
book – my white, white hand ran over the dried paper,
watermarked, and I felt I could climb mountains.

Tarah Gibbs earned her B.A. in English and her M.A.T. in Secondary Education from Georgia College and State University; she earned her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. Currently residing in Berlin, Maryland, Tarah teaches seventh grade Language Arts while continuing to write. Her fiction has appeared in The Quotable and won an honorable mention in Glimmer Train’s Short Story Award for New Writers. Her poetry won the 2013 Academy of American Poets ODU College Poetry Prize.
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