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?