Girls talk about what it’s like, sleeping with a man. (I cannot relate,
turn my head for fear they’ll see my timorous face.) “Cross those
legs!” one says to the other. Another gawks at everybody’s drunk shoes.
I hide mine, the ones I stole back, from view.
Staring out the window, I catch a man at play, locking and unlocking
a Lincoln in the Murphy’s Law parking lot, recoiling from light like a wild
animal. But that’s just how I see him: in my life, men stalked my family’s
house, their hearts primed with pride, steadied on the virginal prize,
the more alluring sister.
Near Jim’s Restaurant, which boasts “THE BEST WESTERNS,” the streetcar
squeals with the universal truths of these young women: “You know me!”
But how to know anyone in this world of half-light, where girls speak so
boldly in the shadows, and I have no words, only dark secrets.
Couples relace their hearts, dodge the Seaton Street playground, sliding
misfit teens in and out of nobody’s arms. I long to join them in their tirade,
to speak the angry words I imagine they speak. At Church, men move
themselves through the dark like pawns. “Where are all the kings? ” Mama
used to snivel. “What’s to become of us, you? ” Her faith and blindness, once
upon a time, the same thing.
Bright headaches line Queen and Spadina streets, and “Augusta,” announces
the driver, could be a woman, or princess, he is trying to find. Just before
midnight, Ali Baba’s neon sign a beacon directing me home. But I have no
fairy tale to go home to. I left that years ago. Those girls are also long gone,
their pink heels inventing new steps into the future, surging ahead, arriving—
I too am almost there…