I’m Roya, twenty years old, and living on the outskirts of LA—if that means anything.
She’d sit with bare feet on the concrete,
against the walls, finger-painting bouquets,
faces, and the places where they’d prick her
and take pictures of her lungs with x-rays.
They said she could have died that day.
She’d kiss the beaks of white parakeets,
wore shorts in the rain, changed her name,
etched houses for the nymphs and the sylphs.
Tanya stayed the same, till she wouldn’t play.
She knew growing up kept the ghosts at bay.
She was absentee, drank the darkest tea,
shuddered in the mornings, heart fluttered,
panicked over that cross processed summer.
Mothers shouldn’t decay, J.D. couldn’t stay.
She crawled away, never knew what to say.