Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2011 v10n1
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The missing

They go to the woods, the town, the entire town
looking for a girl but finding
a different girl with her own
missing eyes, her own beetle
in her mouth. They circle, the town,

the entire town, this wrong girl
whose splintered repose
appears to be running
against the side of the earth,
who makes them imagine
this same becoming
for the right girl. We should lift her,

one is thinking, bury her
under the modesty of leaves, another,
and another
wants to burn the woods, shoot the crows,
poison the coyotes, and beneath
those thoughts, wants to touch
the wrong girl, reach
where she is open, into death,
as some would rest their heads
between the teeth of a lion. They turn,

the town, the entire town,
to where the priest
considers that the closest
he’s come to a miracle
is when he backed out of a room,
the woman naked
on a bed, smiling, his pants
undone, his life
pointing where it had never been.
He sees them expecting him

to bring God into the moment
and wants to tell them, God is here,
God was here the whole time,
but instead, makes the sign of the cross
and asks them to pray silently
for the girl. Then it’s dark

but no one leaves, then it’s light
and they’ve grown accustomed
to the habits of ants, no one
wants to let the wrong girl go,
who is more of a scrap
every moment, as if they know
it’s not their mourning
they tend but the mourning
of those from another town. Where

the right girl might be alive
in a kitchen, reminding the woman
who asks the right girl
if she knows her phone number,
of her own daughter’s
pride of knowledge, her slow pleasure
in repeating seven digits, in holding
what is not real and making it
seem so, as flesh does,
until it does not.  end

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