by Lauren Schmidt
A teenage girl in too-high heels stamps past a line of cars.
Held by a stop sign, drivers wait for her
patent leather daggers to pass. Her stagger begins
to slow: she knows they cannot go until she’s gone.
She idles in the crosswalk, stages herself before the cars
in a half-deserted plea to be seen. She needs someone to see her
studded belt, her stockings like an electric fence, the tear
that reveals her knee. She needs someone to see her
hood— trimmed in exhaust-gray faux fur— about to drop
over her face. She needs someone to see the gaze
behind those thick black straps of eye-lining wax,
streaks like tire tracks of a garbage truck that motor over her
soft and seamless blue, someone to see the beauty
of her rouge-ruined cheeks. Instead, the cars see her
lips bust up with Fuck you! from some mucked up misery,
mixed inside then spewing out. She turns on her toes
with a told-them-so swiftness and off slips her shoe.
In all patent leather tragedy, she snatches the heel and cradles it
to her chest. The child hobbles to curb she came from
almost not crying. And as the skinny-stitched skirt shimmies
to the brim of her waist, she tugs at it, trying to hide
the tops of her thighs—trying to save what little she knows to save.