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Poetry

When the Girls Come Home

Emily Kagan Trenchard

When the girls come home, they will be men.
Will need to unlearn the swagger of war;
like killing a loyal, but ill-tempered dog
it will not be quiet or easy.
They will fill whole carts with groceries
but abandon them if the store becomes too crowded.
Needing their skin to be
more gift than convenience,
refuse to let their husbands call it a “fuck.”

When the girls come home they will leak sand.
Thinking, at first, a shower might do it
they will bathe until their skin pickles with defeat,
until they resign themselves to making
brownies and casseroles with an unmistakable grit.
They will take to sweeping constantly.
After a year or two, the shedding will subside,
coming only at night
or when a car backfires.

Yes.
When the girls come home
they will swerve into traffic to avoid napkins
and plastic bags in the road, their eyes
will go dead watching how easily
young boys can turn anything into a gun.
They will forget to feed the children. Still,

let them bring a fruit salad to
your Memorial Day picnic.
Don’t count how many beers they drink or stare
at a manicured trigger finger for signs of use.
Remember that they have died twice.

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