I imagine a girl.
Perhaps she is shoulder-height,
perhaps she twirls her hair around
her fingers. Perhaps she gazes at strangers
for too long, makes them swallow at emptiness,
makes them feel the hollow in their bones?
She might try her mother’s heels on, stand tall
in front of the oval mirror, imagine saying please, thank-you,
imagine herself as a wife. Imagine herself beneath
a father. Beneath the earth.
This girl spells her name by the sighs of boys
that she has collected, seashells on her windowsill.
The moans of her vowels, the teeth-clicking,
the tongue-touching. Perhaps she learns her name
by the way men say it. Perhaps she never knew
how to say it at all.
I imagine a girl, but imagine nothing,
everything, everything in the world,
that I am left with empty cupped palms
waiting for the rain to fall.
For what is a girl but smoke from a fire,
a river swallowed by the sea?