If You’re Beautiful

by Margaret Hornby

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If you’re beautiful,
you have to be especially good, I said to you once.
If I sent you a message in a bottle would you read it?

Staring at the blacktop
the wheels go round and round as
you ride your bike all the way from Whistler to Vancouver
(I tell my friends)

Have you gone away? Left the planet?
We always miss each other.
You’re walking toward the door—
have you your umbrella?
Don’t leave the house without your galoshes,
cover your head,
take good care of yourself.

Who keeps the wounded world intact?
Who protects the carousel girl
who wants to build a merry-go-round at Lakeside Park?
The woman in Dubai who wants to release Sammy the shark from his tank,
Zoë Creighton, a quiet Canadian heroine,
or Jon, producer of Deconstructing Dinner?

I say to my son, If you’re beautiful, you have to be especially good.
Still can’t find the right words.
Take a hand in your fate? (As if a mother does not take a hand in everything.)

You stare at the pavement where the white line divides the highway.
I watch the jet stream writing a line across the sky—
waiting for the second coming?
The seal is opened, the four horsemen ride by.
Leave off the second coming!

What history to keep alive?

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