What Girls Stow Under Their Pillows

by Theodora Bishop

Moonstones, friendship bracelets,
& bloodied Band-Aids

Sometimes letters addressed
to the dead, the names mined

while lunching in churchyards

              turkey on rye atop the plot
              for Mary Jean, beloved sister,

              your wings were ready
              but our hearts were not

What girls stow under their pillows

are locks of traded hair                           black for Becky
chestnut for Cassandra

When the pond freezes over
the last to arrive

is ordered to strike
its surface with her fist

because what girls stow
under the ice become

the words they hoard
from the one charged

with pummeling the pond                         ice cringing
to a mouth wide enough

for the girls to fit
& afterward the girls licking

the chosen one’s knuckles                          the victim’s
fingertips                                                        her lips

blue as her knee-highs
required by the diocese                               the girls

at the dinner table
dropping their spoons

because under their pillows
they have stowed evidence                          forget baby

teeth & fairies
Bind a girl by

the ankles & wrists                                        dump her
into the pond

& she’ll sink
to the bottom

because you know
what happens to girls

THEODORA BISHOP is the author of the novella On the Rocks (Texas Review Press), winner of a 2018 Next Generation Indie Book Award, and a chapbook of short stories, Mother Tongues, winner of The Cupboard’s 2015 contest. Her work has appeared in Glimmer TrainPrairie SchoonerArts & Letters, and Short Fiction (England), among other journals, anthologies, and exhibits. She serves as Poetry Editor for Gulf Coast and Fiction Editor for Big Fiction.