Sometimes they sent her home early,
her hand bandaged tight where a needle
had pierced her. Home from school,
I found her curled on the floor, watching.
She woke early to put on her face
before we could see it for what it
wasn’t, round and smooth and yellow.
Her legs tucked under her,
she held the mirror in her tiny hand
and painted on the jungle colors:
blacks and blues. At the factory
she tied tools around her waist,
slimmer than any boy’s though her arms
were knotted in muscles. She climbed up
beside the men, four feet above the ground
on their vibrating monsters, machines
that worked like animals. Like pieces
of thread cut from the loom and dropped
clean, their words gathered around her feet.
When I Leave You
Don’t look for obvious clues,
like the vague scent of alien aftershave
on the blouses I left in our closet.
You’ll find no calls to a number you don’t
recognize, or piles of oversized clothes
that don’t fit me anymore. Good luck
rifling through the trash in search of
crumpled receipts to a restaurant
you never took me to. When I leave you,
look for gummy, flesh-colored globs
swollen fat by water. Those remnants
of your morning oatmeal gathered
at the bottom of the sink
will tell you why I’m gone.