A small bald girl pushed her head
between my arm and torso the way
a dog might,
her head as silken as a dog’s
only round as a globe,
and, of course, not furred; she whimpered,
wanting water,
and I asked a woman
who might be the ward nurse
or maybe even
her mother, why I could not give her any.
She gave me some dry reason with which I tried
to appease the girl, spouting stock about
tests, treatment, until the swim of her eyes lost themselves
in my side.  When I finally freed myself–for this
was a dream and I had things to do–
realizations to make in lost corridors
of no purse, no keys,
no money or ID–
I found that, while pinned to me, she had sucked
a twist of my shirt, the cloth wrung into
a crooked finger–

and I wondered, hurrying, half-
horrified, away, whether
she hadn’t lost more fluid than
she’d found–but was afraid
to even check the wizened cambric
for damp,
as if her sickness were something I
might catch, or,
her need–

All the rest of the day
the sheen of her scalp shone
in my head’s dim, and I wondered whether
my whole life would be different,
or would have been different
all along,
if I had somehow taken her
to water, let
her drink–dreams
being like that–

Another draft poem not written to a prompt.  I’ll link to Real Toads Open Platform.  Pic is mine (as well as poem!)  All rights reserved.

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27 Comments on “Girl”

  1. Poor thing. This reminds me of the medical tests done where no food or water can be had within a certain amount of time.

  2. Brother Ollie Says:

    Tragic piece. Blessings to all those little sick ones.

  3. Sanaa Rizvi Says:

    This touched my heart deeply..! Well penned!

  4. X Says:

    Whew. What a dream eh? When I was at the Shakespeare theatre the other night, I saw a bald girl. I assume she was either going through treatment or had a disease or disorder as she did not have even eybrows. We were across the theatre from each other, and she was one of the crowd invited to sit on the stage. She had a lovely smile though. I was glad she had joy. I would probably stuggle not to give her water, even if the doctors or the mother said it was for her own good. I dont tend to like to see people suffer. Though I do.

  5. A dream that had I had anything like that it would linger with me..I find the thought intriguing that the choices we make in a dream might actually matter…

  6. Jim Says:

    Bad dreams leave a bad taste when we perform poorly in those dreams. Nice poem about what we’d rather have experienced.
    p.s. I’m still on sabbatical.

  7. Snakypoet (Rosemary Nissen-Wade) Says:

    Oh, this reads to me as perfectly complete, no mere prompt. A moving and intriguing story; I can feel how the dream haunts.

  8. Kim Nelson Says:

    So strong, this piece! I was totally engrossed from line one to end. Well done!

  9. Polly Says:

    I agree with previous comments made, this is a strong piece that is strangely compelling, once I’d started I simply could not stop…the child, although dreamlike, becomes real to the reader with her bald silken head and sorrowful wimpering, playing on our emotions, knowledge and expectations.

    I think this is an amazing poem.

  10. Brendan Says:

    I love how this surrenders to the dream, accepts it first as fact as we do when we don’t know we’re dreaming, then rather attempting to interpret it holds the image forth — praises that nearly bald skull — and observes how the dream tends us through our day. We don’t dream, dreams live us out. Fine stuff, Karin.

  11. hedgewitch Says:

    As Brendan says–this is a dream that replaces the waking state with its own logic, its own reality, yet seems fragile as well, not to mention frightening–all the damaged that we can’t succor, that is so in need of it, yet beyond our powers…powerful simplicity, and really like dreaming oneself to read it.

  12. Kerry O'Connor Says:

    Phew! That opening image got to me, and the mention of the whole being a dream makes the vision of sick and needful girl so much more an archetype.

    I could not help remember, how on waking after having my tonsils out as a girl, my father squeezed water down my throat from a cottonwool ball.

  13. gailatthefarm Says:

    I love this even with its sadness. beautiful piece.

    I like writing to prompts too. I was working on form on this one. I fixed the link, thank you.

  14. jinksy Says:

    Those words packed a punch – dream or not…

  15. Intense, Karin. You draw us into the raw emotion of the experience.

  16. Thank God it was a dream. But, I guess, there are kids who live in worse conditions than this. Yes, some dreams do linger for days and sometimes they bring up questions we try to dodge during waking 🙂

  17. Love the poem. And the drawings are beautiful. Both together, captures everything.

  18. … this pulled me right in and I was hooked.

  19. M Says:

    you’ve plumbed the dream here, k, and now I’ll take it into my own. powerful. ~

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