Some girls grow up wanting to shroud
themselves in a habit. Wear black to the ankles, pray.
Some girls want to give themselves up to Jesus, utter
and complete in the crush. Some girls curl and ribbon
for sermons, lead the lambs in the basement scripture
every Sunday. Some girls want to marry the silence
they can only find in that basement, while the kitchen
forms itself into meat and potatoes. Some girls would
rather not find out what a back seat is for, but Jesus
gives them a heart murmur and the church needs strong
women. Some girls are refused by the convent, 1936.
These women unfold themselves like the deed to a house.
In this house, situs inverses, a child born with her organs
on the wrong side. Cystic kidneys. Cerebral palsy. These
women turn the other cheek. These mothers can’t stop
sleeping. Their daughters are four to a room. Chew braids
in Mass. Become teenagers who can’t stop sleeping. Play
Eve in a school play. Act 1, they are a rib bone. Act 2,
hitchhike to a big city and get pregnant, almost die giving
birth in a living room. These grandmothers envy. Light
leaks through them. They carry you across the street
like you are a letter. Slap you hard when you steal a hotdog
bun before dinner. These grandmothers would prefer
you remember the carrots in their yard, neatly planted.
Their table, never empty. Grief at the hip like a seventh
child, still they set the table. Held your yellow crayon
as you drew a circle. And when the light came, all flash
and tumble, they hesitated a moment in the checkered
bathroom before turning towards it, wondering if their
daughter would remember to turn off the stove.

Skip to content