The Girl

by Alice Neiley


This morning I woke up wanting to lose someone.
The beach was empty, and I watched a plate of white light flatten
on the bay, so bright a little boat seemed caught out there.
Maybe it’s expectancy that tethers us
to our bodies, I thought, then slices us open when we are most quiet.
Which means no matter who leaves me and who does not, I will always be
this body, this waiting girl in it.   Wind opened over the water
like someone scattering a fist full of dark spoons.  I thought of you pocketing
stones from the snow-rimmed beach, then piling them up all around your house.  I
thought of when you stopped cold

as a gull snapped up into the sky, light on his underbelly—
look, you said, and I did.
Joy sometimes brings with it a loneliness that makes me want to wash
my face.  But if it’s not loss that makes sense
of all this longing, what is it?  Wind twisted through the water
in the most unraveled of ribbons.  Wait, no, lit white ribbons—no,
reflections of a girl’s white hair in the water, ribboning out as she tries
to touch it, completely stunned at how slow
hair moves in the slow moving water and how fast it stops the second
she looks away, as stunned as she’s been every second of her life here,
and will be every second until it’s done.


Read Alice Neiley’s Memory or read her artist statement

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