Having a bad day. You know that especially life-affirming kind of stress where you can’t stop thinking, “If I were actually good at my job, this wouldn’t be stressful at all”? Not such a terribly helpful thought, but there it is.
I was given a lot of charm bracelets as a kid. The first one I can remember was beautiful, silver chain, all these perfect little silver charms. They told me we could get new charms for each birthday, and I got the impression that I would be given one of these little artifacts each year of my life, and its shape would tell me what I was supposed to be. I was thrilled, and excited – it seemed like the kind of thing that would happen in a fantasy story, and when my bracelet had all the charms on it, I would be ready to meet my destiny.
I didn’t get any more silver charms. I saw that bracelet once, when I got it, and then it was put away so that I didn’t lose it. Never saw it again. The next year I got a plastic charm necklace, with a little pan full of breakfast, and a phone that made an annoying ding when you poked it. That one I held onto for an improbably long time, of course. Wore that dinger out.
A pewter cat, an octopus, a bell,
each tiny charm no bigger than your nail.
A tiny pirate in a tiny jail,
a tiny plastic key that unlocks hell.
The only charms you’ll get are charms you make
So siphon off a vial of your tears
Write up a little black book of your fears
Press your shiny ego as a keepsake.
Delineate your shame with Perler beads
(but don’t tell them what you make the Barbies do –
even molded plastic has its needs)
And don’t forget the bullet with my name.
I’ll have just one charm to remember you –
the scar from the last time you made me bleed.