Needle to thread. Scythe to wheat. Foot to pedal. Hammer and sickle. Work, work, work. She has three sisters. At dusk she drinks tea. From the silver belly of a samovar. In the dark she drinks vodka. She takes a lover who smells of fresh meat and the pines. The hunt is on him, like his tongue on the crest of her sex. Like the little forest of white down on her breasts. On the nape of her neck. A hunger grows. Grows inside her. Note: She is not hungry for him. He is a symptom of that hunger. An empty cup she could keep replenishing. A clue: bread crust, apple core, chicken bone. Wishbone. Knowing three languages is a useless luxury in this town. A sort of unwanted appendage. A sixth finger. She can’t remember the Italian for window. She climbs the ceilings. The water spouts. She eats strawberries, using her lips like a blind girl uses her fingers. Little match girl. Little lamb. Little shoe. Black boot. Achoo. A little red wine? Red Riding Hood. All the better to see you with. To read you with, my dear. Follow. Over the river. Through the woods. To the sea. Knees deep in the salty water. To the island of Crete. To Tunis. To Florence. To Russia. To Moscow. Finally. Finally, you say, to Moscow. She will arrive on that page. That splendid stage of trajectory. Of destiny. Destination. She is splendid. Sexy. Oh baby. She is Little Miss Adjective. She will wear her best black dress. Sings a soft song when she walks. Syllables of silk, of organza and tulle say hush, we are almost at "The End." She wears a veil of Swiss lace. Real, they said about the lace she was wearing. Little accents, little umlauts, tiny apostrophes like snowflakes sting her cheeks. She does not blush. She makes the sign of the cross. She makes a date. With hunger. With the great black cloak of a train. But this time she doesn’t lie down. She refuses to make her bed. To spill her blood like children. She doesn’t set herself on fire. She won’t sign her name or spell you her secrets. She won’t uncross her legs. She opens her mouth instead. She opens her mouth and she. She eats. She eats it all: porters, nannies with babies, the tracks, the coal, the iron, the ore. She dines for pages, for chapters. Eating paper, drinking the sweet black ink, wiping her mouth on her sleeve. Then she eats her best black dress and so she is naked. And so she is huge. And it is you, it is you she is holding like an open book, well-loved, in her hands.
Poem from The Drowned Girl, reprinted with permission of Kent State University Press