– Poetry by Nicole Farmer –
Why the Girl?
Also available in Issue 13 of Dreamers Magazine
A new friend tells me he is writing songs about his dog, and then confesses the songs are from the dog’s perspective but mostly about himself, but perhaps more about his daughter. The dog was her dog first. I ask him about her, and he tells me she was a
real free spirit, always following her heart and traveling around the country. I hear the word “was” and yet I am stunned when
he says she was murdered five years ago. I say what everyone says, hearing the words “I’m so sorry” come out of my mouth and knowing they do not suffice. What should I have said? How can I describe the rest of my evening? How I cried in my car the whole way home, imagining the suffering he and his partner have lived through, imagining the mysterious undeserved death of an untamable girl just turned twenty.
With no details except “she got herself in a bad situation”, my mind races. Why is it always the girl? Girls die at the hands of a man hundreds of times a day, for hundreds of reasons: he wanted her body, he was ashamed of her body, he was ashamed for wanting her body, he wanted her money, he resented her money, he had to punish her and take her money, he hated her freedom,
he was threatened by her freedom, he wanted her freedom, he took her freedom to feel better about resenting her freedom, she was in his way, she should pay for being in his way, he was attracted to her and it was her fault, he had to rape her and kill her in order to feel better about the fact that he resented her, he had to rape her because he could not control himself, and that was her fault, so she deserved to die, this girl – any girl – who is simply there, and inconvenient to his agenda.
I want to understand humanity, but I can make no sense of this. This timeless tragedy plays out again and again. What shall I say
when I see my friend? I can only hold his hand and listen, if he should ever want to speak again about the father he once was.
a memoir in verse
As seen in Sad Girls Club Oct. 2022 Issue
Lemonade sandwiches, that’s what we called them.
We would rumble into some little village in Mexico
in our old school bus, in the early afternoon, and all
the restaurants would be closed for siesta. My sister
and I were always starving, so mom would find a place
with doors still open and we’d sit at a table
with brightly colored waxed tablecloths, where there
would be cold leftover tortillas, limes, sugar, and hot
sauces. Mom created a meal with a tortilla,
sugar and lime juice – roll it and it’s delicious!
Then it was off to pitch tents on the beach,
drink Orange Fanta or black coffee (no water,
lucky us) – no school, hours of sun and running,
yellow streaked days changing out hair to gold.
They called us latchkey kids – I wore a red yarn necklace
to school each day in kindergarten, like a talisman,
the tool for entry to our brownstone apartment
on display. My older sister walked me there through
busy streets and intersections while mom caught the city
bus to her secretarial job, gone until six o’clock – making
my way home was my own adventure. We’re all separated
again – my father living in New York. Three hours alone
every day, but first the war with the door. A large,
hungry wooden door with all kinds of bad moods and swollen
sides that refused to budge. Yelling, begging, kicking on
the fortress for the old crone of a landlady on the third floor
to let me in. Sometimes I fell asleep in the snow, waiting.
Waiting to get taller, older. Tough wasn’t a word we used.
Things got very fast like racing on a speeding train
or super slow motion like a movie reel and deathly
still – all revved up, heart pounding, I’d run around
in small circles or lie very still on the couch and hold
on to the cushions with my fists clenched and watch
the room spin. Three hours alone at age five is a
whopping long time. I’d make up games and sing. No
TV. Too young to read to myself. Mom was a health nut,
so no sugar in the house – only raisins. I’d stand on
the kitchen counter to reach the Fred Flintstone’s –
sweet and chalky – first one, then two, then five.
Time to go visit the nosey old witch upstairs who had
Chips Ahoy! cookies. Our game was one juicy detail
about my mom for sugar. Learning how to lie was easy.
My teenage sister and I in the moonlight dancing
under the giant pecan tree in the back yard
high on mushrooms for the first time, picked from
cow dung in the fields outside Carencro,
Louisiana, and dipped in honey – getting stoned
with dad, celebrating the end of the marriage, we giggle
uncontrollably, free from the foursome, and happy
in the knowledge that they won’t unite again,
ever, because six separations are enough,
and it’s done! and we’re soaring, spiraling
across the yard with giant bobble heads, spreading
our seagull wings just like our free-sailing mom.
Sometimes the end of shared misery is celebration –
better than any birthday party with sparklers and fireflies.
was my nickname. I’d fly from my crib as a toddler.
As soon as I could stand, I’d rock for momentum and hurl
myself forward – arms wide. I’d hit the floor and emit piercing
screams, much to my mother’s dismay. She put pillows around
the landing zone. Jumping from shopping carts to the cement
floors in supermarkets. Jumping from the top of the stairs.
Anything to feel the joy of flight, the momentary freedom.
Imagine my host’s dismay the other night when dancing
I did a back flip over a chair and landed on my skull.
It was a dare, and I was showing off, but for a moment
I was flying, feet over head. Not exactly the expected
behavior for someone almost sixty. I felt a little bruised
and banged up the next morning, but there is nothing
like soaring through space to make you feel alive.
About the Author – Nicole Farmer
Nicole Farmer is a teacher living in Asheville, NC. She has been published in over thirty quarterly magazines and was awarded the First Prize in Prose Poetry from the Bacopa Literary Review in 2020. She has just finished her first chapbook entitled ‘Wet Underbelly Wind’ which will be published by Finishing Line Press in November of 2022.
Did you like this poem by Nicole Farmer? Then you might also like:
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What I want the surgeon to know
Sanctuary, and other poems
The Body as Poem
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This is What Death Does
Where Courage Lives
The Psychiatric Patient Profiled in My Application
Modern Medical Miracles
What the Mirror Says
Writing Myself Alive: An Episodic Poem
Breathing; Love These Lively Things
Oh Emma; Slow Dancing
In the Mirror, For My Mother
Zenstronomy: Zen of Instruction, Godma, Astrophysical Reality
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