Who I Wanted to Be

By on Nov 15, 2020 in Poetry

1960s small home with teen in linen dress

Memory arises from a puckered,
bent photo of that day.
My cousin with her rich, sophisticated
family enter our shack, the abomination
of my stifled life.

We do not have enough chairs.
Children are left to stand or
crouch near the screen door.
I peek through a flimsy curtain
hanging as a door to my tiny room,
large enough for only a bunk
and a box for my folded clothes.

My cousin is eighteen. She wears
a light blue linen dress with a peter pan
collar, ankle socks and saddle shoes.
She twists the ringlets at her shoulder.
Her lavender scent reaches me as if
from another world where I belong.

They stay for one hour of laughter and talk,
then leave. I meant to speak to her, but
no one called me out and I had no shoes.
They will not be back. I saw
who I wanted to be and in a trance,
carefully refolded my clothes.


Judith Ann Levison was raised in a logger’s family on coastal Maine. She holds degrees from Mount Holyoke College (BA), Hollins University (MFA), and Drexel University (MS). Under her maiden name, Judi Croxford., she was published at fifteen in The New Yorker. Chosen as the first woman Poet Laureate in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, she is also a watercolorist. Her poems have appeared in Agni, Blue Unicorn, California Quarterly, Evansville Review, Hollins Critic, New Millennium Review, The New Yorker, Portland Review, Mudfish, Painted Bride Quarterly, Caveat Lector, Paterson Literary Review, and more. She has published two chapbooks: Oak Leaves and Sand Castle, a book, Cruel Roses (2018), and Fallen Petals</i (2020), forthcoming in the fall.