It was easier giving up cigarettes
than it was giving up
the strange habit of insignificance.
Mom's beauty parlor appointment — sacred.
Her father's lunch time nap.
Later, a lover's preference for white
towels and cloth napkins at dinner.
It's how it was always done.
Everybody knew that. Hold back a bit,
related voices whispered. You can't
succeed in this setup without stepping back,
Once, as they were climbing a narrow path
to a waterfall, she proposed
to a lover a pact of mutual admiration
for purposes of automatic validation,
seeing how everybody else was always so busy.
He declined, clinging to his integrity,
the canyon wall.
Eventually she fell in love with people
who rarely did what they promised.
The intricate dance of justifications
was so pretty,
like figures in a minuet,
complete with smiles,
powdered wigs, beauty spots.
BEATE SIGRIDDAUGHTER lives in Silver City, New Mexico (Land of Enchantment), where she was poet laureate from 2017 to 2019. Her occasionally prize-winning poetry and short prose are widely published in literary magazines. Recent book publications include a poetry collection, Wild Flowers, and a short story collection, Dona Nobis Pacem. In her blog Writing in a Woman's Voice, she publishes other women's voices. WEBSITE.
(Image credit: The Moon Over a Waterfall, Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858)