The day my 10-year-old daughter started taking Prozac,
I go full baggallini. Cry-walk into my local gift shop,
stationery in the back, greeting cards up front,
in between bath salts, travel alarms, fuzzy socks.
This was my mother’s store. Not mine. Not
yet. Please not yet the need for socks both fuzzy
and slip-proof. Couldn’t I still trust where I tread
in the world? Until my daughter needed a pill
to push through her clouds, I kept my dreams loose,
tossed into whatever I carried with me every day.
I was ambitious and Christ my shoulder hurt, carrying
a bag full of notebooks,books, pens, lipstick,
another notebook, another book.
If an hour or an idea appeared, I was ready.
Now, therapists and teacher conferences later,
I wanted a separate pocket each for
grief, for anger, for courage.
What I needed to be ready for now
had to be packed precisely and worn throughout the body,
right across the heart.
*This poem won First Place in the “Poetry for Purses” Competition in honor of Kate Spade and suicide prevention.
Hilary King is lives in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. She writes poetry as a way of witnessing, as an aid to memory, as a way to explore the ever enduring mystery of human beings. Her poems have appeared in Fourth River, Belletrist, PANK, Blue Fifth Review, Cortland Review, Mom Egg Review, Gyroscope, and other publications. She is the author of the book of poems, The Maid's Car. She has an 12-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son.