394 Readings | 4 Ratings

Understory

Rust lipstick, fishnets, the understory
of my hair lime green where almost

no one will see it. The boys don’t know
what they’re doing and we don’t think

we can teach them. It’s 1992. I’m fifteen.
On nights I can’t talk my way into

a campus dance club, I babysit,
the fathers always picking me up

and dropping off. One, you know the one,
the ophthalmologist who keeps Playboy

under the vanity, says, When I pull up
you’re always watching for me.


When they move to Tennessee, I miss
his music collection. He sends a mix tape,

a family snapshot. How do all these
people leave their children with me?

The eye doctor’s daughter buried
her face in my neck whenever I held her.

Sometimes I wished I were her mother,
that I could keep her instead of

just trying her on, but look at me,
black on black with a green secret.

If I flip my hair forward, you’ll see it.
So little light reaches the ground here.
Posted 02/04/13
Books by Maggie Smith
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