Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Girl Sleuth

A brenda is missing—where is she?
Summon the seeds & weeds, the desert whooshes. Phone the finch
with the crowded beak;      a little pretenda
                 is learning to read
in the afternoon light near the cactus caves. Near oleander & pulpy
caves with the click-click of the wren & the shkrrrr of the thrasher,
                 a skinny pretenda is learning
to read till the missing Brenda
                 is found. Drop of syllables like olives near the saguaro.
Nancy Drew will find the secret in raincoats & wednesdays
                 & sticks. Nancy whose spine is yellow
                 or blue will find the brenda in 1962,
Nancy                 who has no mother,
                 who takes suggestions from her father & ignores them.

Gleam goes the wren ignoring the thorn. They cannot tell the difference.
Click of the smart dog’s nails on linoleum.
                                  Nancy bends over the clues,
of brenda’s locket & dress. Word by word
                 between syllables a clue. Where has the summer gone, the autumn—
are they missing too? Maybe Nancy
                 will parse the secret & read the book report on Nancy Drew:
“neat pretty sly cute.” Syllable by syllable
                 & still no brenda! Nancy
puts her hand to her forehead; is the missing
girl in the iron bird? is the clue to the girl in the locket?

Credit


From Practical Waters. Copyright © 2009 by Brenda Hillman. Reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press.

Author


Brenda Hillman

Brenda Hillman is the author of ten poetry collections, including Extra Hidden Life, among the Days (Wesleyan University Press, 2018). She received the Academy of American Poets Fellowship in 2012 and currently serves as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

Date Published: 2016-12-02

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/girl-sleuth