Streetcar Girls

The girl stood on the 
Running board of the
Afternoon cable car
Running from California
To Chinatown and Mason.
One skinny hand 
Bird-wristed, held onto
The slick brass pole
Where other hands
Had grabbed before her
Leaving fragments of
Filth and dreams
Of life in the City.
The other waved free
In the marine layer breeze
One dainty 9 year old foot
Stood planted on the slim
Platform, the other she
Let swing freely almost
Skating the ground
Wearing out the gum
Soles of her flimsy
Canvas shoes.

As the old streetcar
Pulled up California.
Her parents stood in front 
Of her, not looking behind
To see their precious child
Recklessly enjoying the ride. 
She got more daring
Leaning her body weight 
Held in place only
By her fingers and a wobbly
Foot that searched for 
Purchase on the slender
Worn down stander's only
Perch, climbing uphill. 

I am a kill joy. 
I wanted to yell at her
"Careful, girl! 
You might fall!
What seems fun now
Won't be fun when you
Under the wheels of
A streetcar named
Desire for Recklessness
Tumbling downhill
Forever climbing upwards
Trying to reach safety
Once more, but always
Dedicated to tasting
Out of the view
Of those who 
Love you.
You might find
That freedom
Is a fine
But falling
Ain't much fun
At all. 

Walking up this 
On my own two feet
Watching people
Skate upwards
Should be 
Warning enough
To hold on tight.
Once you fall off
You are not getting
Back on the 

I see my fellow 
Streetcar surfing
Letting that perfect
Note of rebellion
Sting on the foggy
And know a life
Spent safely 
Watching the ride
Not participating
Is not
For girls like us
At all. 
But sisters, 
This hill is steep
And tall.

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