Shadow Self

April 27, 1991|By Colleen Hoffmeister

Oh, I like this story. Watch this.

The woman with the cornsilk hair is Sharlene

but now she is changing into her shadow self.

You can tell when she puts on her red lipstick,

throws her head back and laughs maniacally.

The story's been done -- good self, bad self,

but I like this one. The other self isn't evil,

just more fun and assertive. She gets to wear

better clothes and earrings. The other self

gave all of Sharlene's clothes to Goodwill --

the cardigans, the practical shoes. We could

all wish for such a productive blackout.

I have given my shadow a name. She

doesn't scare me so much anymore.

I used to think that let loose she would

stand up in churches and shout, ''I am

the bride of Satan,'' or down Wild Turkey neat,

change her name to Free and, leaving no trail,

take off for Montana with a biker named One Eye.

In fact, she is satisfied with so little -- dangling

earrings, anger and the roundness of the word, ''No.''

Yesterday I siphoned water from the pool cover.

Over spring, birds had dropped tiny red worms

among the maple pods. As the water receded

the worms writhed in the sun until they dried

into bits of thread. Not one went along easily.

It is the same for my shadow. Even my arms

get too heavy to lift until the shadow

breaks out with her rage. She is getting stronger.

Colleen Hoffmeister is a student at the University of Baltimore. ''Shadow Self'' won the Eleanor B. North Poetry Award of Sigma Tau Alpha, the international English honor society.

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