I step on wet cat litter
on the way to the mirror
and ignore it.

my feet are bare,
my ankles are tired,
my legs spent from cartwheeling down your block
all summer: bruised, broken spindles
of scabs and bravado.
I’m ignoring the gravel
under my toes.
I’m plucking my eyebrows.
I’m picking out tights.
I’m meeting someone soon.

I try on several lipsticks;
take my time with each palette,
each gloss, each burgundy line
of delusory affection drawn into
a wide, toothy smile
I’m nude for a while
in front of the sink;
my dry hands are
unwashed but I can smell flowers
on my nails as I tease my split ends
into hair bigger than it is:
rosewater from the quick spritz
to my face to pace myself
when I feel the urge to
go back in time,
erase and retrace things in
illusive reception,
name them things like
us or
enough so I learn how to
finally stop.

unfitting for grown women
and I’ll continue to falter:
cut my hair unevenly
to the nape of my neck without
sexuality,    
      be  incorrect
and often
without attachment to its correction.
take my time with mopping things,
take my time learning ruby liner,
onyx lashes,
diffusing for a while.
spit in the faucet without washing
the couple spots the stream missed
and I stay waffling between color schemes
and themes of conquest.
I remember the years of unnamed longing
and I scream as I
suddenly soften.

heels are the last to go on.
they’re awkward and uncomfortable but I
like how tall I am as I prowl past your place
so you get one last double take
on my way to eat a girl from the inside out.

I clack over the litter without a glance back in
its direction on my way out the door.
if I’m lucky,
I’ll teach my daughter how to shapeshift her way
to knighthood without compromise.
without insertion.
she can keep her breasts,
her imperfection,
her relentless gaze towards clandestine martydom,
her verbosity, the audacity to speak so much and in tongue and with
her overused adjectives that she breathes

even in her sleep,
works into every passage
(how many times can one really be amenable or
replete?)
but I am often.
and I’m sorry.

how many times she is sorry
when she meant to say nothing,
when she meant to say don’t call me or
scream I’m starving.
but my love will have a cradle and a blanket and
anything she wants from me;
a mobile with the planets hung crookedly and

carved into the center of Jupiter
hovering far above Earth,
her mother’s favorite emblem of luck and
expansion,
with a butter knife and an old eyebrow pen
the only poem I felt strong enough
never to rework:

rest girl,
you do not earn your birth.

2.

 

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