M. Brett Gaffney


Butterfly Girl


The locker room is as quiet as a centipede.
Training bras hang from hooks like loose teeth.

One girl schlumps in the back corner,
arms wrapped round her body, and cries.
Hair limp as an unwatered houseplant—
it hides her new and sensitive antennae.

The others hear her but keep to themselves,
a flutter of gossip and whispered grass on their knees

They all remember the transformation,
the night their mothers changed the sheets,
red lady lipstick suddenly foreign
                                                   and violent.

They quickly dress for gym and fly from the room,
knowing it’s best to let alone an empty cocoon,
dripping wings.

Though none of them admits it, each girl wanted to be alone
when they lost themselves, when their bodies
forced them into a life so unstable
and full of wind.