I step on wet cat litter
on the way to the mirror
and ignore it.
my feet are bare,
my knees are tired,
my legs are still spent from cartwheeling down your block
all summer: bruised, broken spindles
of scabs and bravado.
I’m ignoring the gravel
under my toes.
I’m plucking my eyebrows.
I’m picking out tights.
I’m meeting someone soon.
I try on several lipsticks;
take my time with each palette,
each gloss, each burgundy line
of delusory affection drawn into
a wide, wolfish smile.
I’m nude for a while
in front of the sink;
my dry hands are
unwashed but I can smell flowers
on my nails as I tease my split ends
into hair bigger than it is:
rosewater from the quick spritz
to my face to pace myself
when I feel the urge to
go back in time,
erase and retrace things in
name them things like
enough so I learn how to
unfitting for grown women
and I’ll continue to falter:
cut my hair unevenly
to the nape of my neck without
without attachment to its correction.
take my time with mopping things,
take my time learning ruby liner,
diffusing for a while.
spit in the faucet without washing
the couple spots the stream missed
and I stay waffling between color schemes
and themes of conquest.
I remember the years of unnamed longing
and I scream as I
heels are the last to go on.
they’re uncomfortable but I
like how tall I am as I prowl past your place
so you get one last double take.
I clack over the litter without a glance back in
its direction on my way out the door and
if I’m lucky,
if I am very lucky,
I’ll teach my daughter how to shapeshift her way
to knighthood without compromise.
she can keep her crooked breasts,
her relentless gaze towards clandestine martydom.
her overused adjectives that she breathes
even in her sleep,
works into every passage
(how many times can one really be amenable or
but I am often.
and sorry, how many times she is sorry
when she meant to say nothing,
when she meant to say don’t call me or
yell I’m starving.
my love will have a cradle and a blanket and
a mobile with the planets hung crookedly and
carved into the center of Jupiter
hovering far above Earth,
her mother’s favorite emblem of luck and
with a butter knife and an old eyebrow pen
the only poem I felt strong enough
never to rework:
you do not earn your birth.