Once when I was harmless
and didn’t know any better,
a mirror to the front of me
and an ocean behind,
I lay wedged in the middle of daylight,
paper-doll thin, dreaming,
then I vanished. I gave the day a fingerprint,
I sat naked on a towel
on a hot June Monday.
The sun etched the inside of my eyelids,
while a boy dozed at my side.
The smell of all oceans was around us—
steamy salt, shell, and sweat,
but I reached for the distant one.
A tide rose while I slept,
and soon I was alone. Try being
a figure in memory. It’s hollow there.
For truth’s sake, I’ll say she was on a beach
and her eyes were closed.
She was bare in the sand, long,
and the hour took her bit by bit.
Carmen Giménez Smith, “Photo of a Girl on a Beach” from Odalisque in Pieces. Copyright © 2009 by Carmen Gimenez Smith. Reprinted by permission of University of Arizona Press.
Source: Odalisque in Pieces (University of Arizona Press, 2009)