in the middling alabama

In the middling Alabama
unpopular girls grow tall
and firm given the cover
of hundred-foot magnolia
tree towers. Given limbs
too thick to rustle, betray,
or give a girl away. Make
it so you can never look
up and say it wasn’t me.

Never say you are not
the girl who wobbled
into magnolia arms
weeping. Tears you
spilled in overturned
leaves. Fallen boats.

Like others, you grew
on iced-tea stories with
sprigs of mint. Slept in
silver moon puddles.
Fear a response to the
brilliant neon bibles
or anything that stood
between a girl and sky
she could see. Stars.

You grew an inch more
per annual ring. You grow
until the room key is a
bulge in pressed khakis.
A trinket for your thoughts.
One look from the eye
of a mounted stag
above the fireplace.

Alina

Alina Stefanescu was born in Romania and reared in Alabama. She lives in Tuscaloosa with her partner and three small native species. This poem is drawn from her chapbook, objects in vases, forthcoming from Anchor and Plume in March 2016. She wants you to read it. More online atwww.alinastefanescu.com.