March 16, 2007

Girl With Dirty Fingernails

I often see her,
the girl
with prickly eyes
and smudged black eyeliner around them.

She takes the same train as me.
She opens a book
and stares at it.
She moves her head
so that her hair falls
to cover her face.

She has not yet learned to dress.
Her metallic nail polish is chipped
and there is dirt
under her fingernails.

Sometimes, I look at her, and
when she knows I'm looking,
her mouth hardens
like a streak of pink clay.

I want to tell her
it will be OK. I want
to lie to her,
but I know, if I speak, she will only
noisily turn a page,
and burrow deeper
into her own space.

I'd like to touch her,
to tell her,
it will be OK,
and beauty isn't everything,
and love is only chemical anyway,

but she would not believe me.
She is smarter than I think,
and she knows better
than to speak to strangers
and time-travelers.

Fall 2006.

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