Caitlin Pryor’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Pleiades, Entropy, Gulf Coast, Poet Lore, Boxcar Poetry Review, The Mississippi Review, and elsewhere. She holds degrees from the University of Michigan, The New School, and The University of North Texas, where she is currently a lecturer in the Department of English.
Little girl cries. Little girl lets juice river the front of her dress.
Big girl watches, fondles a blood orange in grocery-store glare.
Little girl displeases her father. His eyes ripen; he dwarfs the shopping cart.
Big girl’s veins ice over like back roads. Big girl knows what comes next.
Little girl’s father squeezes her tiny hands in his: tight, tighter, tightest.
Big girl knows that pressure. Her once-husband’s displeasure: a stolen necklace.
Little girl’s mewling crescendos to scream: her fingers, pale petals scarlet with pain.
Big girl freezes. Big girl thinks her mother would know what to do.
Little girl shrieks, begs with her eyes: wet and brown as fruit rot.
Big girl’s body hurls into their orbit. Big girl bellows: feathers come out instead of words.
Little girl is learning the yoke of men. Little girl’s father wants to finish the lesson.
Big girl crushes the man with her stare. Big girl watches him let go her hands.
Little girl blubbers, wipes her splotched face. This lesson will not be her last.
Big girl leaves the store, lights a cigarette with throbbing fingers.
Little girl glides down the aisle, a wounded bird. Her tears evaporate like rain.
Big girl doesn’t hold hands anymore. Big girl knows what hands can do.