Schema of the Almost Real

When the women in my family die,

jewels appear.

Broaches and diadems in cream-pink boxes

lined with velvet the strawberry red

of a motorcycle—

prized by some distant uncle—

gleaming like the broaches.

When the women         in my family die,

boxes appear.

It happens       and I am seven,

I get gum in my hair.

The gum rings pink, like          the boxes.

My parents are always cutting  gum

out of my         hair.

With my sister,

I play princess. From head to head

we pass a diadem.        It crumbles with use,

whitesilver       rhinestones

fall behind us like contrails.      We play

mermaids, another game          that’s better    

if you have long hair.   When the women

in my   family die,                    braids appear,

long and silverwhite     as rhinestone contrails,

stretched across hard,  bare shoulders.

This happens

and I am ten.   I hoard scraps of diadem,

I drag a stuffed            tiger behind me           

on a leash.        I want hard

for it to            come alive, be mine.

I am ten. Everything    I wish for

burns incandescent

and almost real            inside me.

Little girls know much about want. We have

a ferocity of it.

See? The women          in our families die

and seal up in boxes

their elegant     braids.  Diadems

crumble.           Never mind the fairness                     

with which we share                 the rule.

We get gum     in our hair.

We want.                     

We want.


Molly Bess Rector lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas where she co-curates the Open Mouth Reading Series. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Ninth Letter, The Rupture, and others.