I. BEAUTY AT FIFTEEN
We were too late to catch the moon,
already hauled from the swamp
and hung up to dry. Moon melon,
new penny—I turned my back on it
and went on reading, for I was fifteen and bored.
I’d walked the wall I was now sitting on,
testing my balance on the distance
between my parents, which seemed to grow
with each wobble and flap of the arms.
Was my father king of less and less
as I grew older? Mother was queen
of the binoculars. A girl wants to be
a princess for Halloween, I announced.
Absently, some palm fronds clapped a little,
from a great height, almost in the dark.
And I surprised a wood rat in a hurry.
But he was no footman in waiting,
not in the story whose pages I turned.
Down the highway, in the houses of men,
lights too low for stars refused to move.
In such a palace, a girl might be well advised
to fall asleep for a hundred years.
I’d cover you in no time, the kudzu said
to no one in particular.