Girls’ School

A poem for Sunday

A girl sits on a rock blowing a gum bubble, while two girls in the distance play fight on a green field under a highway.
Justine Kurland

There were two Hannahs. There were  
eight Amandas. There were three Lindsays,  
and each one wanted a nose job.
One got it. One Hannah

ran 12 miles in the morning,
the Los Angeles dust moving under her steps.
The other studied the brains of zebra finches
that were simultaneously held captive

and falling in love. Two rings of purple
culled Lindsay’s white face,
and for six months all her expressions
she could not express. The other Lindsay said,

I support it. And the Amandas fanned out
in a silent kaleidoscope  
of 16 skeptic eyes. I did not know myself  
as I was, when I was alone with them.

Was I ever alone with them,
the scrim of a nude descending
from the adjoining bed. I spoke to them
in the shower, my hand washed their skin—

My hand moved lower, in the mornings.
Red was the color of the beaks
of the finches, of the sky at dawn
when Hannah ran past the brutalist lab

where they were kept.  
I can’t remember Lindsay’s face before the operation,
only what I said about it,  
and the way she looked away.

There was a sudden knowledge
that came then. The look
of ambiguity, what we were doing,
our hands silent, shifting, again—

And if I said it would not happen,
it did not matter. It happened,
occurred. Like the sun, or time.
And then it happened again.