Merie Kirby grew up in California. She lives in Grand Forks, ND and teaches at the University of North Dakota. She is the author of The Dog Runs On (Finishing Line Press, 2014) and The Thumbelina Poems (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2015). Her poems have been published in Quartet Journal, Midwest Poetry Review, Avocet, and other journals; she also writes operas and art songs in collaboration with composers.
I am not the girl standing in a strange kitchen at midnight,
embarrassed by her mother’s black eye. I am not the girl
who was never allowed to cut her hair and still has
her baby hair at the very end of her very long braid. I am
not the girl with the old-country name. I am not the one
who fears her brother will die during one of his
asthma attacks, nor were my grandparents in
an internment camp. At home my family does not speak
Spanish, eat Persian meals, or know how to use chopsticks
with fluency. Another girl was the first to be kissed, but not
the same one who left school for six months and never told us why.
My father was not a fireman. I did not have one
hand that remained baby-sized. My hair was not red. I was not seen
by my father talking to a black classmate and beaten for it.
I did not find magazines of naked women in a box marked
“tools.” Or in the bottom drawer of the desk in the garage.
Or in the glove compartment. My mother did not cook
heavy German meals for my friends. I never went shopping
on Rodeo Drive. I never added water to the vodka bottle.
My parents did not divorce. I am not the one who ran
the fastest or had the most friends. I am the one
whose father read stories to finally make the slumber party
sleep. I am the one who changed schools.