You are the girl
I would have looked up to
in high school
Vintage tees and broomstick
skirts smell of the man who sold
them, the one that was with you
last night
old enough to be your father
and maybe recommended
by him
like good weed
a fix that keeps on giving
Your friend dragged you from
the swimming pool last night
where you–like Echo–unwound
gauze layers like peeling away
their pain when their eyes lick
your skin their charred fingers
raised poisons kept you afloat
a face-down Ophelia with hair
in seaweed tendrils
She would feel the heavy
carelessness of your
confidence that someone would
love you enough
to pull you out of it
It’s that dancing that keeps your
ears clear of the symphonies
of phonies you’re not trying to
hear
keep swinging
poll center
heart center
spread
dip
roll
find your center
warm chests you press to
it’s not so different to close
your eyes under the lights
and feel the love
while they stick another dollar
bill in your g-string
anymore than it was to
free fall into that endless
ocean blue the chlorinated
hue of forgetting
that once
there was a little girl
with dreams of fairy princes
whose white horses
took a detour in middle school
when they realized it was girls
who’d get on their knees
for a hell of a lot less than
diamonds
and you
already knew
the feel of those carpeted
brush-burns
the education they sought
came from you
a fearlessness that was
a comfort to the rest of us
trying so hard to playact at
what we thought we had to be
our feelings fragile as loose
feathers the pluck and bleed
and all our hollowed-out insides
that growing up too fast demanded
you were a phoenix
and we prayed to be like you
even as we called you
slut
whore
home-wrecker
behind your back
our green tongues powdered with
secret love
we never saw the empty rooms
you went home to
or the used needles in the kitchen sink
or your panties mixed in with stranger’s
clothing
or the diary you kept that said whether
or not today you want to live
all we saw were the rainbows the scarves
the beaded curtain framing your face
the wild abandon of your laugh
we ignored the urgency
with which you threw yourself
into that swimming pool.