The Garden of the Fugitives (Texas Review Press, 2014). Originally published in Shenandoah (Spring 2014).
DAUGHTER, 14, WITH SCISSORS
She still can’t use scissors.
She sits on the edge of her bed,
holds out her wrist, blood-beaded,
a bungled bracelet. I wish I was dead—
a whisper. Like Andersen’s mermaid,
she’s bartered away her voice.
Outside in the dusk,
a bedlam of children’s noisemakers—
the tide of cicadas in summer’s trees.
She can’t cut.
While she sang from her heart
to Disney’s Little Mermaid,
the canary yellow pair for lefties
mauled paper between serrated teeth.
Wandering free, wish I could be …
To spring her from K5,
I sheared 26 pictures from old magazines:
“A—aqueduct” through “Z—zinnia.”
She can’t cut straight.
I caught her at 10,
remaking a dress and belting
with Britney: Hit me baby one more time.
She stabbed the hemline.
At her feet, two ragged arms,
a ripped turtleneck.
Right then I should have scoured
the house for sharp objects.
I curl over her
as though to reclaim her with my body,
reconnect our pulses.
She’s part of that world of Grimm,
whose spindle will have its way,
the princess seduced to a sleeping wheel.
How to play? She’s all thumbs.
Her mouth opens.
The song spins to dust on her lips.