Taylor DeBlase, Three Poems


An eight year-old girl in a navy blue sweatsuit walks 

into her sixteen year-old sister’s room. 

The sister spies her infantile form, fresh skin and jellied legs, 

and says, Let’s play a game.

The eight year-old girl in her hand-me-down blues 

looks out the window into the deepening day.

She knows an end is coming.


She has agreed to play before, but

she can’t remember the rules.   

Dad’s home. She can hear the splashing, 

the running hose, the slop of soap on steel. 

He’ll stay outside. Come on, lay down.

The eight year-old girl lies down, wants to play but 

behind her head the sky is suspended upside down. 

Look, the sky is falling.


Her sixteen year-old sister lays on one elbow and 

five of her fingers go invisible inside a small pair of 

navy blue sweatpants. The eight-year old girl closes her eyes,

taking chunks of carpet into her fists

as if she could hold herself there and stay unchanged. 


She dreams she is buried there on that carpet,

preserved, pristine, in the before.

A lid is shut tight and she sinks

down deep. Past floorboards, past cement, into fresh-dug earth. 

Away from hands reaching to touch, voices asking to be heard. 

She goes within. Another comes without. 

That crystalline creature, crawling from its underground, will never know

what the eight year-old girl would have become.



When I was seventeen my mother

sat me down and told me the truth of things,

that I could not hitchhike wide

and fast across the country, could not

become starlit highway jazz, swinging 

car to car tuned to the old devil moon


You simply cannot do it, Judith,

you’re a girl and girls have more to fear

than fender benders. The rest hangs

unclouded—rape at the hands

of psycho killers haunting roadsides

with their broken tires, armed with

beefy Kemper bodies and

doors with broken locks.


My brother William, tall and eager and

crossing state lines every summer since

he was fifteen, already put holes

in the boots they bought him last Christmas.

Our adventurer, they called him.


When I was five I had a doll

named Miranda, and her clean

porcelain body always looked

brand new, untouched as if still 

sealed and boxed. 


Oh, Judy, mother said,

look at the way she looks after her dolly.


Already made the nurturer

before leaving the womb,

I open my window, delivered

to the open black 

yellow-striped night. Somewhere, 

a song starts to play.   



When I was in high school

there was a boy who said

offhand, quick and careless,

“If you leave high school and

you’re still a virgin, you’re either

a prude, a bitch, or ugly.”

The words stayed with me forever, and

I never stopped wondering which I was.

I wanted sex, so I couldn’t be a prude.

Mean at times, but meek and shy to most.

Ugly. That one never went away.

The word echoed in my canyon ears,

strong enough to stay, to

keep whistling through

the chasms of my mind long

after I left high school and long

after I went to college.

Twenty-three years old and I

hated mirrors, what I saw there.

Every line of my face a reminder I was

iron branded by a failure to

be wanted, which is the

same, we are told,

as failing

to be a girl.