March 28, 2018

Kayla Czaga

GIRL LIKE

A girl like you once sold her period panties
on the internet for eighty dollars plus shipping.

She quit the swim team to sleep more.

She thought she was the only girl to be softly
devastated on the back of a motorcycle, breathing
his hair in, getting highway-high in the hours
between curfew and the missing person’s report.

A girl like you once knew how
to solve for x with calculator accuracy.

A girl like you once liked girls. She sat on her
bed lacing girl fingers together.
In the rose light from the glitter lamp, her body
looked factory-perfect. She was like
a Ouija board hands ghosted
over, spelling out b-a-l-s-a-m,
s-o-a-k, a-m-b-i-g-u-o-u-s. A girl
like you once haunted that girl’s skin for years.

The night settled its thick sediment inside
of a girl like you and no one whispered to her,
Darling, that feeling is just the gin
you had for dinner—you will live through
this night and many others.

If I had a nickel for every time a girl like you
couldn’t buy a belt to hold up her end
of the story I could buy a belt.

A girl like you once phoned TEEN HELPLINE
every afternoon for three months but never felt any better.

She couldn’t say algebra without giggling.

Once she got an anonymous e-mail
calling her an arrogant cunt and got arrogant
cunt silk-screened onto a t-shirt.

Like so many girls, she watched her car
getting acne in the hailstorm of high-pressure feelings—
quiet your heart, darling, it’s only a car alarm.

A girl like you once took her rose quartz to the river
and threw it so hard into spring runoff she bruised
a salmon. Snails made the rocks wet with their bodies, but
when she returned home, her rose quartz was still
glowing on her windowsill and love still
pooled like pantyhose in her shoes.

It doesn’t make any sense, this girling,
lining your eyes so deliberately before
making strangers wet with your body.

She stopped eating until she saw god
in the cliff face of Elizabeth Mountain.

She had her tit pics circulated by the hockey
team’s boy god and tried to off herself.

I’m sorry I held your heart down with the sole
of my sneaker. Once a girl like you
did that to me when I thought she was just trying
to teach me how to hotwire a car.

She waited until university to google how
to masturbate because a body like hers
came sans instruction manual.

A girl like you once loved a boy but love
held her words hostage like a dog in a hot car
and no good Samaritan came along to crowbar her
windshield. Darling, did your feelings suffocate?

A girl like you blew all her money on a one-way
ticket to Ann Arbor to meet a Twitter stranger,
but couldn’t step onto the train.

Girls like you go around breaking
in, stealing stranger’s jackets and wearing
them to bonfires. Darling, when a girl
like you busts you open, she will take
six dollars and twenty-three cents
and that mixtape you love more
than anything, but you will get over it.
A girl like you once got over it.

from Rattle #58, Winter 2017
Rattle Poetry Prize Finalist

[download audio]

__________

Kayla Czaga: “I grew up in a fairly isolated town in northern British Columbia where I was often bored and lonely and sad. Reading books, and writing things down, often made me feel better. This August I celebrated my ten-year anniversary of fleeing my hometown. While my feelings these days are less angsty and acute, books still keep me company and help me live my life. ‘Girl Like’ is a collection of things that happened to me and other sad northern girls I know.” (web)

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