Back to Issue Sixteen.

suburban girl requiem



No girl-tongue in the mouth. No street of magnolias.
Domed white. No father ambling around the cul-de-sac, no.
Circles. No decoupage planets, neon stars named for the birth year.
Year of the snake, snake, snake. No mirror with a mother.
Brushing off a daughter’s pretty bones. No confessions.
Like bright jewelry on throats. No name but litany.
Suburban and chilled.
Build me a paper shrine.
I was a girl before I was anything else. My name means daughter.
Means loyal. I can be a secret. I can be a twig-woman in the grass.
Small in a man’s yard. But there’s no air under the magnolia.
No name for the dark inside a tree.



elegy with a river inside it



The sky is half-wrecked, the sun a bright pothole
dipping into the Guadalupe. A porcupine quill hangs

from my lips, still smoking as my fingertips cut
through the water. The banks are overgrown

with bearded cypress and mesquite. A boy slaps
his guitar, plays simple songs, hands callused

from switching chords. I am the girl I never dreamed of
being—the girl sitting in the lap of a shaggy-haired

boy with fingers like wheat, long and sleek. I think
it’s childish the way we sneak out at night, start a fire

somewhere, smoke and drink around it like old men.
But I am a child—one who believes that I should give

in to the bed like a girl in love. It hurts and I feel
nothing except pressure, no pleasure in the boy

heavy on my chest. The bonfire dwindles. I curl
up under the sheets and try to sleep. I dream

of my mother, who tells me to head home, tells me
I’ll survive this like every girl that’s come before.


Megan Peak holds an MFA from The Ohio State University. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Blackbird, Cimarron Review, Indiana Review, Linebreak, Muzzle, Ninth Letter, The Pinch, Ploughshares, Sou’wester, and Valparaiso Poetry Review. She is former Poetry Editor at OSU’s literary magazine, The Journal.

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