The Hidden Family (A Poem)

The Hidden Family (A Poem) February 23, 2020

[A group of friends at MOM’s Ball in New Orleans 2/23/2020 who heard the poem and agreed to be my photo for it]
I don’t know how atypical we are,
But I do know that we’re not from here.
We are children of the stars,
Utterly alone amidst the humans.

Why do I always know when I’ve met another?
Is it because we fought on battlefields together
thousands of years before the present age began?
Or because I intuit that you speak elf telepathically also?

There’s a winking that we do without moving our eyes;
There’s no small talk —
We overshare

And become best friends
(At least when we find another.
Some never do.)

There was a kid in my Sunday school who had a funny smell
And he would shriek at random times —
I was nothing like him.

But as I grew, I started to wonder:
Do I smell too?
When the kids began to snicker
At my not-quite-rightness.

The robotic penguin arms,
The sideways downward stare,
The why can’t he take a joke,
Guess he must be gay.

I don’t know when I’m being off;
I once put sonnets in the woodpile
Of a Chi Omega girl;

And she never did knock on my door
Wearing only a robe,
But once our arms touched accidentally.

It’s always two years later
When I see what other people saw —
My socks pulled up too high,
My smile too menacing,
My voice still preteen.

Nobody is actually bullying you;
They just can’t put their finger on why you don’t mesh naturally with others;
And it makes them nervous;
So they act out.

I am so alone
At all the parades
And team-sporting events
And potlucks.

But there are secret campfires
Where hidden families form;
There are messengers on the path
Who show me the way to yes.

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