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First I wanted to be
by Anitra L. Freeman
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,
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.
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.