Eileen Murphy



Mary Anne was prima in a pink tutu
and pink toe shoes with crisscross ribbons.
I wore a black leotard and pink tights,
black slippers with elastic bands.
Sliding glass doors let Florida
sunlight into her living room.
She was the swan
and I was the chorus,
but it was glorious, her mother,
father, and mother’s friend,

When Mary Anne moved away
I barely ate. I lost weight.
Mother praised my slim figure.

I lay awake late at night,
wishing I could dance
away from my bedroom
with its high jalousie windows.
I eavesdropped on snippets
of my parents’ conversation
mixed with laughter
from The Tonight Show.
I said hello
to the death songs inside me.

I caressed the safety razor
I shaved my legs with.
I couldn’t force myself
to carve the flesh of my wrists.

I asked my mother
to move so I could reach
the cabinet under the kitchen sink:
I’ll drink Drano.
I’ll kill myself.

No, you won’t, said my mother
and told me to set the table.

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