Girls Who

There was one way to draw
the sky in school, as an ocean
above; one way for the father
figure beneath it, with his
brief case as he flailed because
he floated over a maw of roots,
lower branches of an awkward
tree like tongues. The girls who
could figure some method around
these depictions; who detected
an atmosphere in gradual runnels
and conduits; these were the beauties,
perfect listeners and low talkers:
they held a prized quality among
females as if they were good omens,
quiet birds, flying horses. Yet the obligations
of the suns they painted were absurd,
like octopuses drinking through
their tentacles what others breathed;
or were they lavishing each blade
and petal with fuel and encouragement,
as if the natural world they captured
were an emblem of their privileged
childhood?  We don’t know since
they have since slipped away from art,
into fate and dry numbers, and whether
it was the demands of their talents
that swept them up, or the penalty
for stillness as they posed for the stars,
chilling and infinitely more confident.

Jane Rosenberg LaForge writes poetry, fiction, and occasional essays from her home in New York. She is the author of four chapbooks and three full-length poetry collections; a memoir; and two novels. Her most recent novel is Sisterhood of the Infamous, published by New Meridian Arts Press; and her new book of poems is Medusa's Daughter, from Animal Heart Press.

See more of her work in 9.2

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