Suitors Know Best and Other Poems


Suitors Know Best

I stuff cotton in my ears, bits
of bird’s nest, anything to stop
all that talk from those Suitors:
They know best. They must tell me.

They insist at every turn to know
who I voted for in the last election—
want to hold me down and have me look
them straight in the eye and don’t lie.


I shake my Magic 8 Ball every
night with the desperation of a girl
without an escape hatch. Won’t give
me the answers I want. Won’t tell
me when those Suitors will shut up
and stop barricading my house, stop
pulling on my apron strings.


My bathroom faucet drips all night,
consistently morose, and yet not one
offers to fix it. Not without a bride price—
they want me to dredge up all that
I’ve hidden away under my bed
(shells and wind-worn sails, a feeble
bit of sea-wind in a glass bottle) and lay
it in the middle of the floor for their
inspection. They want me to offer up
my bedraggled heart so they can say:
Pull yourself together, girl. They’re good
at telling me what’s wrong with me,
at ignoring the grief gleaming down
my back, unbound—with its one knot
that refuses to be chastised into submission.


Dear O—

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