You are a moth beauty
always hiding
your protrusion of a belly
your wings are dusty
and you are greedy.

Or at least this is what we’re taught
but maybe you’re just empty
so empty you’d consume yourself
if you ran out of victims
like The Yellow Submarine vacuum sea monster.

When my brothers and I caught that film on tape
the images of psychedelic fireflies captured under glass
we watched it on perpetual rewind for two weeks
until my grandma confiscated our obsession.

But that was before you,
before you took me in
and I learned to keep my Beatles fantasies to myself
an Astrid wannabe afraid to cut her hair
that foursome seemed silly in the face of your
stretch jeans, tasseled leather jacket and Megadeth.

You weren’t afraid of anyone,
they were afraid of you.

You had a boyfriend in the seventh grade
from another school and dorky too
but nonetheless an accomplishment.

I thought I was just like you
misunderstood, too
I thought I understood you,
you talked about things
girls weren’t supposed to.

I withdrew from the popular girl, Jo
giving me a tour of my new school
to sit with you at the freak table.

I knew I belonged there
beside you, the girl with spazzy hair
who spoke sci-fi and fantasy
I didn’t realize that was all of your language
and you didn’t live in reality.

I learned later you were careless
with everyone’s confessions
you swallowed them down
secreted them into silk
wearing their stories as your own.


Your hair is tinged green
from all the chlorine
you shake off the water
with spit and teeth
castrating the idiots at school
who don’t understand heavy metal
and Anne McCaffrey.

Lounging by my parents’ pool
once plump and spongy
but by eighth grade
you have shed yourself
all the undesirable weight
now you are immune
from doing what is asked of you.

You are no longer a caterpillar
who will drown and bloat
in the shallow bird bath
all your multiplying lies
distend and extend your abdomen
providing you with a surprising buoyancy.

I believed everything you told me
because you were old
and I was not yet young.

Butterflies dance and moths swarm
everyone loves a butterfly
and everyone wants a moth to die.


You said you were homeless
in Morristown the summer before
junior year
but that was Chrissy,
her face dented in,
her tough hair peppered with spray paint
but her fragility was wet to touch.

Your boyfriend died, you lied
but he wasn’t yours
he was your other best friend, Rachel’s
and you tried to get with him
in the far back of my parents’ Oldsmobile
after they picked us up from ski club.

You kept trying to straddle him
but he kept throwing you off.

You showed up to his funeral
with a skirt slit to a very short there
with enviable legs, you wept prodigiously
your lies were always of abnormal size.

Later you wept that your sister died
but your sister was still alive
that was Shelly’s sister
your sister was slow and lived in a special home
you didn’t want anyone to know.

I don’t know how many other stories you stole
I believed everything you told me
because you were old
and I was not yet young.


You confessed you were molested
with hot breath
but you were never molested
by anyone you didn’t want.

When you steal my story
be sure to check your facts
but fiction was your facts.

And you got my details wrong
when you decided to spill my guts for me
telling a whole captive audience
at the Dobbs Ferry Poetry festival
that my grandfather had touched me.

But it wasn’t him
those details were important to me
but they weren’t to you
because they weren’t yours
you could pick and choose
what to take
and what to fabricate
I felt like breaking.

It’s okay to feel dead sometimes.