We breezed, in our tiny nighties, through basement larders
and waterparks and knee-high fields dotted only by
the Indian dead. We disbelieved our punishments and planned
the plastic futures of hundreds of dolls, their flaking veils of paint
steadily revealing to us what it means to be women:
we sentenced them to barren frontiers, compulsive
recurring love affairs that arose and were cut down again
like zombies in their prime.
Dress-up was ever a source of tension, my drive
to arrange and then abandon at high-heeled odds
with your love of envelopment. Sometimes on Sunday nights
the desert would go out, blazing pink as our Barbie jeep,
and over our mother’s holler we let the sand darken and seep dew;
the chilly grit beneath our knees was preferable.
Had we grown up amid fireflies, the promise of snow,
we might not have learned that staying away
is always the answer. Even so, yours is the love
that taught me to speak, that follows me home.