We are in the good Target, picking out bathing suits
for a last-minute invitation to the beach. My daughter
is nine. Mom, she whispers, can I get the, you know
(holding up two fingers), the two-piece?
And I say sure because her trust in me
is a swirled marble sinking slowly in an aqua pool.
Already she questions my answers,
looks sideways when I tell what I know.
Last month I bought her a sweatshirt
with The Future Is Female printed in simple black letters.
And today, what? The florescent rainbow bikini?
I can’t tell her yet what the world will expect
of her body—complicit, my own hands wanting
a little longer, that familiar weight, heavy bloom
of her scented head—salt, sleep, sun.
by Karen Harryman
from Narrative Magazine