Today's poem is by Jeannine Hall Gailey

She Had Unexplained Fevers

some nights she just wasn’t
herself, skin pale and damp as a child’s
they lay her in a glass coffin
told me there was something in her throat
and I said yes we’ve all swallowed a lot of crap
choked down broken promises like apple.

they just wanted to look at her
beautiful her face still flushed
her lips red as blood on the windowsill
(the promises of her mother come back to haunt her-
why do they wish beauty? Why not safety?)

at night she felt there were eyes on her
but we said there was nobody there
no one could hurt her with us around
still she would fall down        one time
the doc said her hair ribbon was laced
with poison absorbed through her scalp
she slept twelve days straight
we stayed over her and sang

she was nervous about strangers
had dreams about old women and mirrors
we figured she’d come to a bad end
girls like that they bruise easy like fruit
girls like that always getting lost in the woods
looking for a father-figure,
trading in her high-heels for hand-me-downs
but don’t count her out yet

something tells me she hasn’t
drawn her last breath her mouth is still open
she always felt something in her chest
at night said she felt hollow
something about “trading her heart”
something about “destined for an early grave”

you know girls like her always singing
ballads about babies buried under trees
you never know with this kind of girl
hair dark as ebony and skin white as snow
full of nursery rhymes about red roses
this might be the wake up call she needed

Copyright © 2013 Jeannine Hall Gailey All rights reserved
from Unexplained Fevers
New Binary Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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