Tiny jewels of sand and salt spill from her mouth. Her lips lie like cloistered nuns. But her ears—they open like lilies. And suddenly all around her there are songs being sung. New notes slick and green, currency on everyone else's tongue. Her own was slow, cut from the wrong cloth, it hadn't been out on the town in years. When it slipped out it wore shoes of cordovan and danced the old dances like somebody's grandmother. There had been a book like the big screen. She had slept for years on pages of silk and sweet organza. Her legs opening fields of lavender and white space. And the babies. It's true she had wished for them. But this chapter she had wrapped tight, kissed their little heads and left them sleeping. She was prepared to be a murderer, to be the worst kind of woman if that's what it took. She would alter her best black dress and make it new. She would pray for red shoes. She who had chattered away inside her own mind through miles of salt and sea was not afraid to dine alone. She would go to the finest of restaurants and point to the menu. Her teeth would bite and her tongue would remember: asparagus, quail egg, tiramisu. When she cleaned her plate she would stare down into it like a mirror, the tiny pond where she had said goodnight to her two sons. It would blink back, her third eye. The city sparkles before her. Oh glory of glass, oh gloss of steel. Waltzing back through the maze of brilliance, past the park and public library, the lions purring, her teeth clicking, the alliteration of old avenues and boulevards, the constellations necking with the skyline, the chambers of her heart glowing now, her blood orchestral, the little cells, the millions clapping—the men she passes, their mouths itching Aren't you? Do I? Didn't she?
Poem from The Drowned Girl, reprinted with permission of Kent State University Press