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3 Poems by Maranda Barry


I knew who I was

until I didn’t.

That kind of change

is not like the switching on of a light

or the turning off of a faucet.

That kind of change

is like that of an infant

becoming a child.




That kind of change

is the kind that comes from

constant critique

in areas that you never knew needed refining,

(because they didn’t).

That kind of change

is the kind that comes from

being forced into a mold of expectations

that you couldn’t possibly meet

(because no one could).

Being told what you can and cannot wear.

Being told what you can and cannot eat.

Being told who you can and cannot talk to.

Being told where you can and cannot go.

Passive aggression.

Double standards.


Beginning with independence,




That could never happen to me.

Ending with being stripped of everything

you thought you were

and left to rebuild,



How did I get here?

I knew who I was

until I didn’t.


Am I

the scarlet cord

hanging from the window,

the very symbol of my shame

being used for my salvation?


Am I

all my ticks and habits,

the things I wish I wasn’t?


Am I

the unfinished book

by an unknown name,

stored in the closet

where it clothes itself in dust,

unwelcome on the bookshelf

where dozens of other books reside?

Or am I

that very bookshelf

displaying an aggregate

of works all by the same author?


Familiarity gives birth to comfort,

and to take a risk

as simple as choosing a book by a different author

is the same as pushing an ill-prepared sailboat

into black waters

on a windless night.

Now, as the dreamy aroma

of freshly brewed coffee

permeates through the well-stocked bookstore,

enveloping me in consolation,

I’m still drawn to the section

I’ve visited many times before.


And although I know

there are worlds to discover,

depths of fabricated emotions

to experience for myself,

potential to thrive

like Jasmine brought from the shade

to the airy windowsill,

I will still pick the book

from that familiar author,

at least for now

as I reconstruct.


Hey, what’s it called when

that word is on the tip of your tongue

and you think you’ll go numb

if you can’t summon the syllables—

or even the courage—

to get it out?

But maybe you really do

know that word

that dances on your tastebuds

like cough syrup residue,

sweet but unpleasant.

That word you’re searching for

is much more familiar than you think.


If the me you see today

is not the me of seventeen,

would you still

catch a lump in your throat for me?

Would the tears

still roll off your cheeks,

like an everlasting waterfall

of missed opportunities?

I dare say you’d take back

every bet you placed against me.

I’d love to see how much you lost.

Better yet I’d love to see the odds

you thought I’d fall beneath.

Your face must have sunken

just as rotten and unfortunate

as tomatoes in the August sun.

And it probably sinks over again

every time you drive on the interstate,

every time you walk through church doors,

every time you hear that 2000s punk song,

every time you walk on the white sand beach,

every time you go to that pizza restaurant.

I know the sun hasn’t set

on that horizon for you,

and I can’t be sure that it ever will.

All I can be sure of

is that I’m no longer a dartboard

catching the insecurities

you try to aim.


When the ocean carries you on its back,

washing the depths of your very soul

and you smile to the sun,

your dearest friend,

When you dance barefoot

on the white sand dance floor

to the rhythm of the live band’s beat,

When you watch fireworks explode

in the sparkling reflection

of your child’s awestruck gaze,

When summer is fulfilling

its every promise to you,

you’ll still crave the fall.

When the mid-morning autumn sky

is black and pregnant with rain

and the thunderheads give way to beauty,

When the room is as cool as the outside air,

and you’re cocooned away in blankets,

lost in the climax of a new book,

When you taste the sticky sweet crunch

of a caramel apple

under the blinking carnival lights

in the crisp evening breeze,

When the skulls and spiders are out,

shades of black and orange on every surface,

horror films playing around the clock,

When the fall is fulfilling

its every promise to you,

you’ll still crave the winter.

When the children rush

to collect the snow,

competing for whose creation

will be deemed the best,

When hot cocoa, Christmas movies,

and your favorite worn-out hoodie

are the only things

to thaw you to the core,

When the tree is lit with dreamy white lights,

packages wrapped carefully beneath,

the smell of sugar cookies seemingly everlasting,

When winter is fulfilling

its every promise to you,

you’ll still crave the spring.

When barren limbs spring to life

in bursts of greens, yellows, whites, pinks,

and the air feels more breathable than before,

When children search endlessly

in every possible crevice for another pastel egg

and pray something sweet lies within,

When a blanket is spread out in the park,

and you enjoy the lunch you’ve packed,

families playing and full blooms worshipping the sun,

When spring is fulfilling

its every promise to you,

you’ll still crave the summer.

All the while, searching

for what’s next to come.

And soon

you’ll begin to wonder

where the time has gone.


Maranda Barry is an American poet from Pensacola, Florida. With a bachelor's degree and several certifications in Elementary Education, she taught second grade before becoming a stay-at-home mom and writer. Her work has been featured in The Write Launch, The Elevation Review, and Open Minds Quarterly. Follow for writing updates on Facebook @Maranda Barry.


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