Mary Crockett Hill

The Little Girls

How they must have loved the flowers—
generations of pink and lavender
in his small side yard, the careless
abundance of orange. I had seen it
from the road and, with a grain of envy,
wondered at the life that could nurture
such a garden. Now I see the blossoms
were not an offering to the birds.


And the old man who tended them
—in an airless jail cell now
hurling his head again and again
against the metal bed frame
so that his skull might crack
and release the ochre inside.


Let it go—with it, the thought
of him taking her little fingers
and guiding them to his prick,
the blue walls of the pool house,
the white walls of the church,
the round bellies, narrow hips,
breastless nipples he would press
his palms against as if to keep them small.


Let go his wordless boots,
the dust of chalk
haloing his fingers, that barricaded
school room door—
it must all go, but where
could we possibly put such things?


I want to say the meadow.
I want to think there are plants
that could breathe in what would kill us
and breathe out oxygen,
—and there, the blurred voices,
the grimacing fingers,
the horrible, horrible needs
turn still for a moment, calm


and the little girls
can walk in the grass
without recalling so much
as the waxy scrawl
of a crayon, the fold of a collar
or pulse of a breath.

Mary Crockett Hill
“The Little Girls” appeared in Rock & Sling, Winter 2007, and A Theory of Everything (Autumn House Press, 2009).