She’s eleven or twelve, twigs and knobs,
sitting at the table with friends – pink
leotards, hair netted and pinned into buns.
They dig into plates brimming with salad.
She, pale as snow, cuts her burger
into bite-size pieces.
Arm arced, she says, Watch me. Forefinger
and thumb drop a morsel toward her open
mouth, and miss. The girls giggle. Nothing
passes her lips. What remains on her plate
she submerges in a water glass,
sprinkles salt and pepper.
"Child, it hurts to watch you.
Who will catch you when you stumble?"
As if on silent cue, the girls grab up backpacks,
jostle, disappear, scraps of high-pitched
(Previously published in One Stands Guard, One Sleeps.)
Nancy Scott is the author of two books of poetry, One Stands
Guard, One Sleeps (Plain View Press, 2009) and Down to the Quick
(Plain View Press, 2007). She began writing poetry in 1996 out
of a need to record some of the stories she had heard in decades
of work with homeless families, foster and adoptive children,
and the mentally ill. Nancy is the current managing editor of
U.S.1 Worksheets, and her work has appeared in many literary