blackbird online journal spring 2002 vol.1 no. 1



Memory of What I Should Regret

I’m twenty, the last virgin in my group
of friends, the only one without a little tray
of candy-colored hormone pills to make sure

I bleed on time. Other girls have burst into
a secret beauty, their lives an octave higher
than I can hear. Sirens not of air, but sea,

bodies moving in a new, watery way.
I have to know. I don’t care how.
I choose a married man whose voice

is shadows, whose eyes are also dark.
I’m a good girl and I want it to hurt.
It’s a Monday, a rainy night in their bed.

October. Their fourth child born yesterday.
I could go forever without giving it away,
I’ve loved the stillness of the self, sealed,

like the peaceful pause between
birth and breast when I was free.
But I’ve always thought I was a mermaid.

I stare into the mirror’s river across
the room, beyond the strange white creature
swimming there, and picture wife and child

joined in their ecstatic glow. He’s pushing me
down into a stream of song I don’t understand,
into her arms, her face above, so clear,

and I believe in innocence again, until he calls
to me, sound waves pulsing out what should be
my heart, but there’s nothing. It doesn’t exist. 

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