Dangerous for Girls

Connie Voisine

 
It was the summer of Chandra Levy, disappearing
       from Washington D.C., her lover a Congressman, evasive
              and blow-dried from Modesto, the TV wondering
in every room in America to an image of her tight jeans and piles
       of curls frozen in a studio pose. It was the summer the only
              woman known as a serial killer, a ten-dollar whore trolling
the plains of central Florida, said she knew she would
       kill again, murder filled her dreams
              and if she walked in the world, it would crack
her open with its awful wings. It was the summer that in Texas, another
       young woman killed her five children, left with too many
              little boys, always pregnant. One Thanksgiving, she tried
to slash her own throat. That summer the Congressman
       lied again about the nature of his relations, or,
              as he said, he couldn't remember if they had sex that last
night he saw her, but there were many anonymous girls that summer,
       there always are, who lower their necks to the stone
              and pray, not to God but to the Virgin, herself once
a young girl, chosen in her room by an archangel.
       Instead of praying, that summer I watched television, reruns of
              a UFO series featuring a melancholic woman detective
who had gotten cancer and was made sterile by aliens. I watched
       infomercials: exercise machines, pasta makers,
              and a product called Nails Again With Henna,
ladies, make your nails steely strong, naturally,
       and then the photograph of Chandra Levy
              would appear again, below a bright red number,
such as 81, to indicate the days she was missing.
       Her mother said, please understand how we're feeling
              when told that the police don't believe she will be found alive,
though they searched the parks and forests
       of the Capitol for the remains and I remembered
              being caught in Tennessee, my tent filled with wind
lifting around me, tornado honey, said the operator when I called
       in fear. The highway barren, I drove to a truck stop where
              maybe a hundred trucks hummed in pale, even rows
like eggs in a carton. Truckers paced in the dining room,
       fatigue in their beards, in their bottomless
              cups of coffee. The store sold handcuffs, dirty
magazines, t-shirts that read, Ass, gas or grass.
       Nobody rides for free, and a bulletin board bore a
              public notice: Jane Doe, found in a refrigerator box
outside Johnson, TN, her slight measurements and weight.
       The photographs were of her face, not peaceful in death,
              and of her tattoos Born to Run, and J.T. caught in
scrollworks of roses. One winter in Harvard Square, I wandered
       drunk, my arms full of still warm, stolen laundry, and
              a man said come to my studio and of course I went—
for some girls, our bodies are not immortal so much as
       expendable, we have punished them or wearied
              from dragging them around for so long and so we go
wearing the brilliant plumage of the possibly freed
       by death. Quick on the icy sidewalks, I felt thin and
              fleet, and the night made me feel unique in the eyes
of the stranger. He told me he made sculptures
       of figure skaters, not of the women's bodies,
              but of the air that whipped around them,
a study of negative space,
       which he said was the where-we-were-not
              that made us. Dizzy from beer,
I thought why not step into
       that space? He locked the door behind me.
 
From Rare High Meadow of Which I Might Dream by Connie Voisine. Copyright © 2008 by Connie Voisine. Used by permission of University of Chicago Press. All rights reserved.

Further Reading

Poems about Drinking
"To Speak of Woe That Is in Marriage"
by Robert Lowell
Driving and Drinking [North to Parowan Gap]
by David Lee
A Drinking Song
by W. B. Yeats
A Glass of Beer
by James Stephens
At the Blue Note
by Pablo Medina
Be Drunk
by Charles Baudelaire
California Plush
by Frank Bidart
Compulsively Allergic to the Truth
by Jeffrey McDaniel
Days of Me
by Stuart Dischell
Deer Dancer
by Joy Harjo
Deer Hit
by Jon Loomis
Fallen Apples
by Tom Hansen
Father Listens to the Artists
by David Petruzelli
Homecoming
by Robert Lowell
I Love the Hour Just Before
by Todd Boss
I taste a liquor never brewed (214)
by Emily Dickinson
In Knowledge of Young Boys
by Toi Derricotte
In Vino Veritas
by Howard Altmann
Jet
by Tony Hoagland
Joey Awake Now
by Glyn Maxwell
Love is Not All (Sonnet XXX)
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Michael's Wine
by Sandra Alcosser
My Papa's Waltz
by Theodore Roethke
Nights
by Harvey Shapiro
On 52nd Street
by Philip Levine
Parties: A Hymn of Hate
by Dorothy Parker
Picking Up
by Evelyn Duncan
Scrambled Eggs and Whiskey
by Hayden Carruth
Shooting Rats at the Bibb County Dump
by David Bottoms
The Bottom
by Denise Duhamel
The Drunken Fisherman
by Robert Lowell
The Eternal City
by Jim Simmerman
The Silence
by Philip Schultz
the suicide kid
by Charles Bukowski
The Summer House
by Tony Connor
Vodka
by Joel Brouwer
When a Woman Loves a Man
by David Lehman
Wine Tasting
by Kim Addonizio
Poems Teens Like
Howl, Parts I & II
by Allen Ginsberg
A Muse
by Reginald Shepherd
Alice at Seventeen: Like a Blind Child
by Darcy Cummings
Ave Maria
by Frank O'Hara
Ballad
by Sonia Sanchez
Because it looked hotter that way
by Camille T. Dungy
Charlotte Brontë in Leeds Point
by Stephen Dunn
Cicada
by John Blair
Coach Losing His Daughter
by Jack Ridl
Deer Hit
by Jon Loomis
Falling
by James Dickey
Flowers of Rad
by Sampson Starkweather
Ground Swell
by Mark Jarman
homage to my hips
by Lucille Clifton
In Knowledge of Young Boys
by Toi Derricotte
Lady Tactics
by Anne Waldman
Mairsy and Dosey
by Sharon Olds
Making a Fist
by Naomi Shihab Nye
Mermaid Song
by Kim Addonizio
Notes from the Other Side
by Jane Kenyon
Patience
by Kay Ryan
Possum Crossing
by Nikki Giovanni
Sticks
by Thomas Sayers Ellis
Thanks
by W. S. Merwin
That Sure is My Little Dog
by Eleanor Lerman
The Changing Light
by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
The Fist
by Derek Walcott
The New Higher
by John Ashbery
The Pomegranate
by Eavan Boland
The Wild Iris
by Louise Glück
The Young Man's Song
by W. B. Yeats
White Apples
by Donald Hall
Workshop
by Billy Collins