Tell My Mother I Tried

by Lily Greenberg

Cotillion was the first solution,
six weeks of standing by the punch
while brace face boys in their fathers’ ties
stepped on the pretty girls’ toes, hands
hovering at backs, brushing the fabric.
I blamed the ratio, then my mother,

then the boys and girls waltzing
inside me, stumbling over flat feet
and desire. I never could tell who
outnumbered whom. Mother bought me
foreign potions, invoked lasers and wax
to allay the wild topography of my face,

but new growth grew all the time.
My whole me grew out and stretched up
and when the scale tipped my mother
made fasting day, rub a good hipbone day,
there are stars inside your head day.
I’m proud of you day. Outside I became

smooth, but something unsolvable stirred.
Who is it inside me that pulls from my mother
and into the arms of other women?
She says it will pass, this wanting. She says,
when I was you, I had an encounter with a woman
and she passed, and yours will too. That is,
unless I reach back, pull her toward
me, sway with her to the unsung song.

LILY GREENBERG is a poet from Nashville, TN, currently pursuing her MFA at the University of New Hampshire. She graduated with a BA in English Literature and French Language, followed by a year in Northern France working as an English teacher. Her interests include translation, book-binding, blues music, and trail running.