Erin Whitfield


Patches of green neon drift
through the dirty window like snow
as Peaches rubs the red welt stripes
left on her wrists by her last customer.

She knows better than to turn a freaky trick,
but her days on the streets are numbered,
old dollar bills shredded between
the fingers of some miserable life.

She is not quite beautiful,
yet there is a sadness that draws men to her:
the way her small hands float soft as goose down
when she sets her price,
how she sucks a cigarette
as if it were a last kiss goodbye,
her lips, a coast the hot smoke sails beyond.

When she sleeps, she dreams
of floating in a warm lake,
her nose, breasts, and kneecaps
the only parts breaching the water's glass.

When a salt tern lands on her belly,
its hard black beak opens and shuts in silence.
Peaches struggles to awaken,
afraid its claws will pluck something tender,
something with which she can no longer part.

In the bargain darkness of her tiny room,
Peaches turns over,
belly down from the watery world
outside her window, and then.
She swims toward the feathering shore.


The 2River View, 4.3 (Spring 2000)