Oct/Nov 2002 Poetry Special Feature

The Girl Who Lives in Her Head

by Julie King

Artwork by Tara Gilbert-Brever


The Girl Who Lives in Her Head

When she was three, her mother would tie on
an Easter bonnet and send her to the neighbors,
begging for any cracked pink egg or chocolate
rabbit ear. She remembers that, the easy give
of shell, the smear of brown on her palm,
the beginning of "I don't want to" forming.

She is allergic to cashews. When she doesn't want
to work at the hardware store, she eats a handful,
lips puffing into pink bubbles, hives slowly rising
from all her skin like time-lapse photography.
She can't lie so she makes the worst happen.
"I don't want to" still lies dormant in her brain.

The minority of men she dates are kind. One
even said, "Just watch me then" when she declined
masturbating him because her palms were itchy
with hives. But mostly, she balances on her hands
and knees, imagining herself a sturdy table.
"I don't want to" hums in her head like a lullaby.

When she rescues a puppy off the newly tarred
street, he bites her forearm. It bleeds a stream, but
she still hangs on, pulling him with all her might
until his paws snap free. She holds a puppy with no paws
and screams so loud her ears ring. No one comes.
She rocks the puppy back and forth, but he only dies.

If only she had rescued his paws. She didn't want to.


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