learning curve finalIllustration by Jaye Elizabeth Johnson.

You are ashamed
of all the years it took to realize
that the dark little marks made
from your knees slamming into gravel–
and your raw palms that never seemed to heal–
and the blood running down from lips
split, peeling, and pressed tight & slim
to let out thin, shivery breath—
didn’t really mean
that you were more brave
or more resilient

or more persistent for scarring your skin
in tussles and tumbles and falls;
it only meant that they were right
when they said
you couldn’t play like the big kids did


and maybe you were never meant to
play that way
at all.