Kissed by the president in the airport lot

outside Saginaw, her forehead drew crowds

all evening. They came to her through a cold

maze of words, uniformed man with gold stars

on arms that brushed her cheek, bare-necked

woman with gloves of ice that shook and shook

her hand, reaching down to take her full name

and age, which was eight. She couldn’t sleep

on the drive home. The spot above one brow

warmed and beat with stillness as the moon

rose splintered in the frozen window.

 

Stillness

and this fear: squeezing her eyes to see herself

spread under cereal boxes in the morning papers

of strange kitchens, herself on the TV screen

in the bowling alley downtown, in the magazines

the mailman pulled out from his deep blue bag

of arguments. She saw her face in the broken

moon and wanted it back. But the voice of nine

said no, said not a chance, she’s ours, and now

and for whatever it’s worth, you’ve been kissed.

 

 

Originally published in Crazyhorse