Thursday, August 24, 2006

the curfew

Originally published in Gulf Coast 16.2 Summer/Fall 2004

I am late again, my body keeping its blood-store
inside my belly like a stone. What does it need
with all that blood? I have no use for a child.

I was a child. I wandered through the green wall
to neighbors’ yards, my hair pinned with box
hedge leaves. My mother warned against the sky,

but I swear I did not see it change, or it changed
so quickly, gray to green like water deepened.
That summer a man wore heels, a white wig,

and walked our streets. We swore he watched us
in our sleep. From a block away, he whistled,
his light hair hardly distinct from clouds.

When they went in his house they found
rooms decorated for daughters—-a red bike, a rope.
I know the difference between late and lacking.

I know what waits in me, dark spot, clinging
wire. How else was I to gauge my time, my life,
but to walk past him, turn around, then run?