August 21, 2020
For You, Pretty Girl
By Emily West
“I’m sorry, Mama,” she wrote,
before she hung herself, at twenty-seven.
I remember, then, my poverty,
the foam mattress I bought
from Honest Ed’s, choosing the
five inch over the eight inch, to save twenty dollars;
a room, a winter, no love, no child.
If I could have told her
that California lies, morphs into nothingness,
dilutes a strong belief in anything,
until we shriek for something, even death;
or that someone would love her,
or that children might look to her
to will her back to life.
If I could have made her cry with cold or
somehow known, been there,
held the frightened beating heart.
But I couldn’t and
the ambulance sounded through
the barely biting cold of a San Francisco night
to pick up her thrown-out corpse,
and the pretty face still looks at me
from a story on my phone.
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