On the night of my mother’s disappearance,
I sat wedged between two classmates
on the way to my first dance, wondering
if I’d be pretty enough to be visible.
Her abandonment should have undone me,
but the terror of this impending appraisal
eclipsed the dim unease of her missingness
so fully, she disappeared into it.
At the dance, I watched as the other girls
were peeled from their places along
the wall by boys whose new power jangled
in their pockets like fresh-minted coins.
I stared straight ahead as my not-chosen-ness
became more and more conspicuous,
the wish-to-be-visible morphing into
the wish-to-be-invisible, which is
the wish-not-to-exist awakening—
a wish with a grip strong enough
to open a bottle’s lid and enough hunger
to swallow everything inside.
As I leaned against the wall of the darkened
gymnasium, my mother sat on the edge of a bed
in a hotel room, dropping pills down the well
of her throat, wishing herself out of her body.
What a strange inheritance, this not-enoughness,
this auctioneer’s call—will ya give me,
will ya give me, will ya give me,
going once, going twice,