The pretty girl down the street talks to me in
Fragmented snapshots,
Fifth-hand rumors and shattered bones that heal
with the touch of a beckoning finger.

She lies in the looming grass of her backyard and mentions
she never had a favorite blanket as a little girl.
She shook with cold at night
but didn’t want to say so.
The rumbling echo of music from the basement rocked her to sleep,
and Mama’s champagne-bubble laughter was her lullaby.

Ten years later she jolts awake
Pacing all night
awaiting normalcy’s knock on her bedroom door
Sleepwalkers roam the early morning streets
Living is easiest with eyes closed.

She thinks she will get the love she never got before by
filling the space with a warm body next to hers and
she’s never known how to go one day
without seeking love that no one wants to give her.

I watched her
run away from home to get the peace and quiet to
rip herself apart as she pleases
I watched her go from cruel to broken to
both all with a
picture-perfect smile plastered on her face.

And, as she twirls her pretty hair in her
Pretty hands and
parts her pretty lips to speak I catch her
In the act of shattering, and they scream,

“I am being eaten from the inside out.”

Ali Pond ’19

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