Girl Sleuth

A brenda is missing—where is she?
Summon the seeds & weeds, the desert whooshes. Phone the finch
with the crowded beak;   a little pretenda
                is learning to read
in the afternoon near the cactus caves. Near oleander & pulpy
caves with the click-click of the wren & the shkrrrr of the thrasher,
               a skinny pretenda is learning
to read till the missing brenda
               is found. Drip of syllables like olives near the saguaro.
Nancy Drew will find the secret in raincoats & wednesdays
              & sticks. Nancy whose spine is yellow
              or blue will find the brenda in 1962,

Nancy                   who has no mother,
              who takes suggestions from her father & ignores them.
Gleam goes the wren ignoring the thorn. They cannot tell the difference.
Click of the smart dog’s nails on linoleum.
                                 Nancy bends over the clues,
of brenda’s locket & dress. Word by word
               between syllables a clue. Where has the summer gone, the autumn—
are they missing too? Maybe Nancy
                will parse the secret & read the book report on Nancy Drew:
“neat pretty sly cute.” Syllable by syllable
                & still no brenda!   Nancy
puts her hand to her forehead; is the missing
girl in the iron bird? is the clue to the girl in the locket?

Brenda Hillman, “Girl Sleuth” from Practical Waters. Copyright © 2009 by Brenda Hillman. Reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press.
Source: Practical Waters (Wesleyan University Press, 2009)
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