i want to tell her dead girls don’t get into harvard
sometimes i feel like every door in the world could be locked and i wouldn’t know the difference. like how many sides does a window really have. why are there so many tree trunks in my front yard. / mom, did we buy a hatchet? a liar is always a mouth but a mouth is not always a boy.
actually, i’m sitting in a bathtub and and some woman is getting paid to tell me water doesn’t exist.
teenage girls love to say hometown like we didn’t watch it burn. your guidance counselor loves to say suspension like you started the fire. sometimes, all it takes is an afterparty. the balloons deflate and you are on a boat in the middle of his basement. administration tucks you in her file cabinet. someone will “look into it”. the men flip our stories like an hourglass.
how many of us will leave screaming before the door slams?
somewhere in a small town, there is a girl who can’t say her own name. in july she will say what she should’ve said in january.
i want to tell her graduation and a house in the city
what is left here but a nickname you wish they’d stop calling you. a prom you never attended but remember so well. there is a summer break hung in each of our closets.
sometimes, all you have to lose is your own hands.
things the kids [didn’t know]
when it snows in nevada [when grandmas body has begun to freeze]
she crosses the stateline with a hammer in her bag. [she doesn’t carry a knife anymore, lost it somewhere in her last marriage]
when she shows up at our door, the oven is buzzing and the dogs are barking and my mom is yelling about the pipes and [my grandfather is telling my mother that we will only ever be women] and the news is reminding us that a body is [temporary], i never know how much i will miss this noise. until i do.
when it snows in nevada, grandma writes her [will] in front of our fireplace “it’s really just that pair of earrings and my bible” and “i hope rod will give the knife back so that you girls can [protect yourself] when im gone”. she chuckles as the hospice nurse changes her dressing. i want this to be a metaphor. but grandma is gone, a year this spring. she asked me to build her a house. and now, i write her into every story i tell. look how honestly we can live [beneath my fingertips].
when it snows in nevada, when grandma [and her care team] are moved into my room, we begin hanging her life from the walls. old scrapbook pages and [clothes she grew out of and then back into]. she wants to say goodbye but she doesn’t want a funeral.
[when the pain started spilling from under the welcome mat. when her stomach was filled with fists. when none of us left the house. the women gather around her like we are a pack of sorry animals. in our living room, my mother speaks with certainty. it is the first time in months that the birds leave her chest. my grandfather still doesn’t know].
i am only a child for as long as i can hold my breath. i only know what is whispered into my door-hinge. i only know what the police report says. i only know-
[loss like this].
MYA RIGOLI is an eighteen year old poet. She loves iced coffee, reading with her dogs, and true crime. Her work has been featured by Button Poetry, the California Endowment, and Get Lit Words Ignite. She has competed in the international youth slam Brave New Voices, as well as winning the Classic Slam. She is pursuing a veterinary degree.