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Fall 2006













After a Magazine Named Elizabeth Smart
One of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the World
Rachel McKibbens

Never mind Keisha with the mud in her mouth,
or Sarah, face-down in the pond. Forget the man
who chose his daughter’s coffin dress, or the woman
who sank to the floor as they closed the lid.

Though you came home changed,
wearing your body like a picked lock,
face, plump as a newlywed, your tongue smothered
in survival and strange prayer—
it was good enough.

And now truth sits in your stomach, a cold brass knob.
Like every damaged girl, you are full of things
no one wants to hear. Instead, we pin your airbrushed face
over headboards. Pray our daughters become centerfolds,
resist daylight, learn the harp, line bookshelves
with secrets like snakes in jars.

Elizabeth, you are proof
that God will always do what he wants,
white girls achieve perfection when they vanish
and America will love you more for your silence.

So when you are overheard
whispering to ducks hung from hooks in Chinatown,
we’ll believe you were only hungry.

When you marry an old man
who locks you in a dollhouse, spoon feeds you pearls,
we will call him wise.

And we will not flinch when your firstborn child
seen squirming in your arms, is a shrieking girl
with her face on backwards.