by Caki Wilkinson

Decked out, half cat,
                                            half goddess (pen
thin whiskers, cape,
                                          and jumprope tail)
the girl extols
                             her sudden luck
a door that locks,
                                     a costume box,
a family not
                          about to knock.

Belief begins
                           with ritual
rehearsed: the way
                                       she waves a prism
                          the exorcism
of sawdust fauna,
                                    topless dolls,
and heroes from
                                   an army set;

how, long before
                                    a note can stir
the mum balloon
                                    her brain contains,
she’s finished growing
exacting love
                             for this world
she made herself
                                   the center of.

CAKI WILKINSON is the author of the poetry collection Circles Where the Head Should Be, which won the 2010 Vassar Miller Prize. Her second collection won the 2013 Lexi Rudnitsky/Editor’s Choice Award and is forthcoming from Persea Books.