by Amy Soricelli

Margaret was the smartest girl in the class
because her lunch bread was stale and her
windows were dirty.
She spent most afternoons hiding from the streaks
across the glass.
When three o’clock came, she knew she could crawl inside
her own head and do numbers at the kitchen table.
She was poor in that sorry way when teachers bring
you to the front of the room and comb your hair.

Margaret was the smartest girl in the class
because her parents cut their words into pointed sticks
and threw them at each other.
She would fold her legs into the corner of the bedroom
she shared with her five sisters and the smallest boy who
was still too small to hear.
Everyone down the block knew the smoke signals from
the roof were the whole family calling for help.

Margaret was the smartest girl in the class
because her clothes were the leftovers from
the bins by the church, and sometimes the girl across
the street got tired of red or blue.
Most afternoons, she opened the dust cave of her closet
and climbed into the chapters of a new war or learned how
frogs were something else before they became frogs.
Margaret had a whole empty world to be smart in.

Amy Soricelli has been published in numerous publications and anthologies: Remington Review, The Westchester Review, Deadbeats, Long Island Quarterly, Voice of Eve, Thirty West, Yellow Arrow, Literati Magazine, The Muddy River Poetry Review, Pure Slush, and Glimpse Poetry Magazine. *Carmen has No Umbrella but Went for Cigarettes Anyway, Dancing Girl Press 9/2021 *Sail Me Away, Dancing Girl Press, 2019. Nominations: “Best of the Net” 2020, 2013. Grace C. Croff Poetry Award, Herbert H. Lehman College, 1975.