She can play somebody’s little girl—wearing
a purple slap on her cheek. She’s
fifteen—holding hands with her boyfriend
—in the night doorway, inside the city
famous for listening to its own
breathing. It’s a dark street under
a bowlful of stars. Or when the street
fills with stars, she can play her own
heartache—the trembling round-shouldered
woman at the bus stop in the Italian
design, fine contemporary hair—or she’s
round-bellied and waddling. She’s
your mother, your daughter—your
wife. She’s twenty, or inside
the faint blue rim of the TV, she becomes
thirty-five—her life etched into her face.
The church clock ticks in the church tower.
Blue and white fishing boats roll in the fishing
boat harbor, and with each sea-swell
she opens and closes her eyes; and with each
sea-swell, the world falls deeper into a looking
glass. “Who is it?” she says, or “Say “Hello”
to what you’ve become.” And this time she
becomes the skull in the second
story window, or the little
fist that knocks on her own
door saying, “Anybody in there?”
As the street fills up with stars.
As the city breathes in and out, she plays
the talking hole in her own face. “No.
No,” it says. “Nobody. I don’t think so. No.”