Baby, you’re on the brink.

Teen Girl Tanka

talking so fast your words blur
flying faster, faster still
rage to live, to shine, to be

I am fascinated by the girls I see on the bus every morning.  Yes, there are times when I am annoyed and offended  by them, but there’s still fascination even then.  Their faces that are so painfully young even as they are clearly reshaping into sharper, harder ‘woman’ faces.  Their slavish adherence to an unwritten code dictating hair and style choices.  The way everything about them changes depending on what girlfriend or hoped-for boyfriend is standing nearby.

They are girls who could — in six months, in a year, in two — be students in my night class.  Or they could be on their way to college or starting families. They are like nothing I’ve ever seen before … and entirely familiar at the same time.  I listen to their comical, catty, bored, fan-girly, angst-ridden, confused, dreamy, over-confident conversations.  And I watch the grown men watching them openly and covertly.  And I watch the younger girls watching them admiringly, taking notes.  And I want them to slow down, to take a breath, take a break, be girls just a little longer.

And it’s only now that I’m typing that I realize: this is all coming up because tomorrow is my niece’s 10th birthday, and I can’t believe she’s already 10 … and can’t believe she’s only 10, and I can’t imagine who she’ll be when she’s the age of the girls riding with me on the B65 … and I want to know, to be reassured, that she won’t be so ‘teetering on the edge’ the way I sense these girls are.


How could I resist?


7 thoughts on “Baby, you’re on the brink.

  1. molly

    your niece has you, the way you had your auntie. it sounds as if you’ve got her back, as much as we can for any young person we care about. I find the hardest thing is letting them out of the house. but if you don’t “let” them, they bust out anyway. dialogue and example, that is what we can give, right? as in writing, the rule is show, don’t tell, and in parenting/aunting/teaching, the other rule is listen, listen, listen. they all need to talk to somebody older, as you well know, since you do listen so carefully all the time.


  2. I *love* the Sound of Music! Just watched a “spontaneous” performance of “Do, A Deer” in an Antwerp train station on Facebook…it is terrifying sometimes, esp when advertisers try to frame tweens as having “girl power,” and you want them to believe they are strong, but they’re truly so vulnerable…we need to give girls more options, so they know there’s more than one type of girl/woman they can be (other than Beyonce)


  3. For the past three weeks I have been living in a house not used to teens where “Their slavish adherence to an unwritten code dictating hair and style choices” determine how early or LATE we leave the house, come back to the house, stop back at the house.

    And all the while my six year old, who I wish would admire from the sidelines, gets in the whole crazy teen age twist and is mimicking, memorizing, and making the experience her own.


  4. Ashley Dawn

    My favorite tanka of yours so far…

    I watch those girls everyday at school as well and I think many of the same things. I hope they are able to stop a second and enjoy this time of being a girl.

    I think back when I was that “girl” and I wish I would have stopped and not grown up so fast with the hair, make up and clothes.

    Sometimes I still feel like I’m fighting against a world that wants me to be “Beyonce”.


  5. Oh, I had similar thoughts today as spring is hitting our high school campus. So much changing, morphing, twittering for the possibility of love…I loved your tone, your style, and the overall push in this post – great tanka, and great balance within the post. Yay.

    And yay Sound of Music.


  6. gnomespeak

    Oh, Liesl! I’m so sorry he was a nazi! I would say I’m a closet musical lover, but there ain’t no closet about it.

    I am sixteen, going on seventeen, I know that I’m naive. . .

    But do the girls on your bus?


  7. Pingback: Splashing « Gnomespeak

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