Girl Work

Zefyr Lisowski

And this is what I say to you. A girl is a kind of work. A

body is a kind of bird. A cage is a kind of artwork.

When I saw the man’s body I said oh! what a beautiful

body and feasted with my eyes. I fisted with his tongue. I

tasted the salt of the rim.

His hands so very pink.

When I clipped the wings of my beauty I put them in a

lockbox and did not let them out until they were good and


When they were good and dead the man’s beauty became

overwhelming to me.

I know the feeling of cramming your flesh into a closet for

seventeen years. The hunger of being a dead girl in a sea of

dead girls.

When the violations began to emerge I was in my last year

of college. Had just turned twenty-one.

When I started remembering all my violations I curled into

a cage and didn’t speak. I cried for fourteen nights straight.

I didn’t think of the beauty of his body, his lovely thickets

of hair.

To be a girl is of course always to be a dead girl.

When I emerged from my stupor I could only eat

clementines, drink as many margaritas I could find.

I cried for fourteen nights straight and when I emerged, I

hit my girlfriend.

We were walking in the woods after dark, cool mountain

crick reflecting glimmers of moonlight. We didn’t hear any

birds. I was thinking of what I had thought all before

thinking of the beauty of his body.

When my thoughts were good and dead I was still thinking

of his body, his warm pink hands.

We didn’t hear any birds. There had been according to the

paper a series of unexpected deaths. The birds had all left.

When I hit her my mouth popped in a sad oh! of surprise

and I started crying and she did too.

It was a tiny hit. It was on the upper part of her shoulder.

We had packed peanut butter sandwiches and the plan was

to eat them by the outskirts of the woods near where the

birds had all left.

After my violations began to emerge, hands fluttering like

wings filled my everywhere I looked. Flooded in the

hallway outside work. Flitted beside me between classes.

You’re less present now, a professor said during a class on

the witch hunts.

Are you still there, my boss at the gallery I girled at asked.

His lips fluttering like a bird.

I didn’t know why I hit her. I dropped my sandwich on the

ground. I picked my sandwich off the ground.

The moon with a thumbnail edge of blood, staining

everything slight little pink.

I felt like I had been crowbarred out of a closet. I felt like

my blood was replaced with something almost like blood.

The cage dangling against the edge of the woods, rattling

like a little rib.

I didn’t say anything, but of course we kept walking.

The woods stretching on forever, every dazzling orange

leaf crunching beneath our Uggs.

We kept walking, and I saw floating hands, and I’m sure we

could both hear so much. The murmur of the creek, and my

crying, and my girlfriend’s crying.

When the beautiful man unzipped his body I was still in

high school and didn’t know how to say yes.

So he said it for me.

My hands covered in snot and peanut butter, my girlfriend’s

hands covered in snot and peanut butter.

The moon so full one could feast on it. The sound of our

breathing, and the hoot of a woods creature. We were girls.

His hands were there too. He feasted on me.

The violations emerged and something was taken over in

me that I could not take back.

There in the woods, without the birds, you could hear it all.


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