There’s an orange-haired girl I know
Who’s so plugged up with secrets
That she can no longer speak.
She dreams of a lake where
Seaweed grows in the deep - every night
A new creature beckons her down
With them to sleep. The water is black
And still once she’s below the weeds;
The floor is packed with pink styrofoam
Puffs; “fragile, do not shake” is printed on
The cardboard underneath. When
She reaches down to shake the ground,
Her hair is sucked into the drain of a sink.
And she begins to spin, marbling there -
Paint from a can - her body whirling
Around at its ends.
At the grocery store one day,
She chooses a cart whose wheel is
Rickety, angled sideways,
So that it steers her slightly
To the left. An hour later she finds
She’s circled the same aisle eight times,
And filled her cart with frozen items -
Mainly pre-cut peaches in plastic bags
That grow wet, the fruit softening
Inside, leaving a trail of water
Behind, on which she slips and falls,
Tits up, her arms spread wide.
She takes a breath, stands,
And walks away.
To the laundromat she goes, where
She pays a machine to tumble water
- No clothes -
Except the pair of socks she wore today:
She’ll remove and wash them alone. She
Presses the play button and walks to a chair
Where a pink pen with a fuzzy top awaits
- She leaves it there -
And sits in the seat beside it, watching
Her argyle socks spin in the
At minute 33
A car outside backfires, the noise pulls
Her gaze away and - quick -
She lunges for the pen and picks a piece of paper up
Off the floor below her seat. On the back of it
- A receipt -
She begins to tell one of her stories,
Then drops it where it was found -
It lands upside-down, so that all she sees
Is a charge of $0.88,
From that day forward she writes her secrets
On the backs of found receipts.
Some days it helps her sleep
But most days it keeps her awake
Thinking about her stories, and
Which she’ll share the next day.
She can’t remember how the creatures
From the black lake pulled her down and
She’s content - better off - she thinks,
Because at least she doesn’t dream
And she can sit and write in the laundromat
Without running a nearly empty
Down the trail bobs the braid,
Up and down, up and down --
Buoy on a lake in the middle of a forgotten town,
Traced down the back of the woman who combed it,
Fingers alone, mirror angled behind her,
Shoulders — shrugged up, arms — tired,
Stretched back behind her head; with every cross
Of a hand she breathes her title in:
At night she chants herself to sleep in that dream,
Then: wake up, time to go,
Rise and braid the hair tight to the skull, locking
In her memories, her secrets, her ideas of who
She might one day be, she who calls herself the
And the crowd goes wild and she hears them sing!
They dance with her as she rounds the boundaries
Of the practice field, a dirt patch in town,
Where nobody can quit and everybody dreams beyond
The endless valleys, beyond the shadows
Of skinny rats, scurrying under bar lights in the alleys.
Every day is a new story where she can hear her own name,
And it's all sealed up in those moments, amidst the crowd,
In the braid — she dares not ride her horse without it, without
Her stories close by, thumping themselves out along her spine,
Spiraling with the clock in her heart that tells her to run,
Far away. Her horse knows the way — to the practice field
In a flurry, he dare not stop for chest to heave,
He dare not escape her might or pull,
He dare not run without his Rodeo Queen.
San Francisco - 2
San Francisco - 3
Year of the woman
San Francisco - 1
The shower has not been used for awhile.
When I pull on the knob that pulls out the water,
It’s as if there’s nothing behind it.
And so I pull harder and harder and the water
Shifts in the pipes and I hear a great thump
Like a guillotine, and the water falls and begins to
And it pumps and it winds and revolves behind
The tile wall and I imagine someone
Breathing there, cold and afraid,
Parallel to me, above the drain.
And the water only sputters heat, but
Still I step in and let the water
And there I’m left wondering
How much he feels for me,
Whether there’s another.
I stare ahead at the tile wall
And remind myself we are not together,
We were never together. Cold and afraid,
I want him
To want me so bad
That I turn up the heat and the pipes obey,
Scorching me, knowing they
Will soon grow weary as I
Facing them, and when they release
I’ll step out all new and pink,
And then they'll go cold again,
Look up at me.
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