by Anitra L. Freeman

First I wanted to be
a bulldozer
the Little Red Engine Who Could
a flying unicorn.

Then I saw The Cowboy Queen.

I wanted two guns and a belt with tied-down holsters,
a cowboy hat hanging down my back
rawhide skirt and jacket, with fringe,
fancy-stitched gloves to leather-shield my knuckles
when I knocked bad guys flying,
and a lariat and a blacksnake whip
and a throwing knife strapped to my ankle.

I made them for myself
from the Emperor's clothes.
I camped out one afternoon in the attic
and almost got a fire started
before Mom smelled me out.

When I read more
I wanted to be Podkayne of Mars
or her second cousin: the one who
piloted my own spaceship,
foiled military takeovers of the galaxy,
cured the plague on suffering planets
and cooked gourmet meals from plankton.

How to fix a rocket engine:
hold a hazily-defined tool in your hand;
open a gray-metal cabinet,
reach in,
and make a lot of motions;
keep a grim and noble look on your face.
When done, grin widely and sing
a bawdy (but not unprintable) song.
Blast off.

In the really frustrating times
I dreamed of being an Amazon;
a strapping buxom redhead
who could swing a broadsword in each hand
and lay waste to ARMIES of idiots.

I've talked to city councils
and angry crowds
in 3-week old clothes and 3-day old hair.
I've told a doctor I'm depressed.
I've told a friend I lied.
And last night I walked eighteen blocks across Seattle
at 2:30 in the morning
because I was not afraid.

I no longer want to be Red Sonja.

Anitra's Writing Page