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institutional gray

the walls were painted an institutional gray, lighting dim and florescent

The  center room was set up like a class.

What could they teach me here?

It had no windows, only chairs and mirrors

mirrors with inscriptions about beauty and loving yourself

I smiled at the effort

A woman spoke at the front of the room, slides flashed behind her

an assist for those who can’t pay attention

I doodled on my hand-out, hardly looking up

I had been so afraid of this day

of this moment

but here I was, coloured pen posed in fingers

and something about the room warmed me on the inside

it wasn’t the walls

or the encouraging inscriptions on the mirror

or the sympathetic smiles from the therapists stationed around the room

It was the girls

Beside me and around me

it was that they were there

That they had the courage to come

to lay their dirty laundry for all to see and assume

to pull out their hearts from hiding

to turn them in the dim lighting

showing off the scuffs and knotches

the fingerprints and the dents

not compare the sizes or the wear but just expose them

I was amazed at their confidence

and although I was there too, I felt below them

like I was still hiding

beneath my fringe of hair

They were handing over their hearts to be refined and molded and I was keeping my in the deep pocket of my sweater

Right here and now I reach my worn fingers in the soft pocket and feel the rough edges of my heart

I am not ready to pull it out

but soon I will be

maybe I already did a little


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