What do shadows do
but remain flat victims of light?
Without bodies, they spread out across
a floor, slip behind shelves,
wait for someone to fall
into their negative world.
A candle’s stammer, bursts of bulbs,
blue reflection of television,
incandescence, any flicker
& they’re gone.
Like them, you disappear through a door,
take all the available light with you.
I can believe in waiting,
search the dark spaces,
ghost restored to ghost
with nothing to say.
Show me a door slammed
& I will walk the edges,
sink into a thin black line, tunnel out
beyond its cracks,
track down your footsteps,
wear the night on my back.
Advice for Little Girls
As a child, you imagine your life will be—what?
a movie, a Broadway musical, your name in neon,
one scene after another, supporting cast, chorus girls,
leading man, some soundtrack in the background,
an orchestra that cuts in the exact moment
you feel this is what life is.
As a child, you try on selves,
dolls that date, learn to kiss, stuff socks
into your first bra, strut around your room
in high heels four sizes too big, wonder
when a man loves you, what self
will be most important.
As a child, you learn even dirt can be good for you,
that cleanliness is not a direct line to godliness,
that a spot of blood in your underwear
means life is happening.
As a child, you find love means
a telephone call, a note slipped under your chair,
and later, you paint your toenails red,
shrink your jeans in the dryer.
Don’t let the bedroom knock you down
with its visits of lovers, hang-up calls,
stones thrown at the window.
Your body is an unfinished paradise—
keep alive in your skin, dazzle yourself,
laugh out loud, turn up the volume.
In the mirror, applaud, then bow.
Flowers will be thrown at your feet.
©2004 by Amanda Auchter