Alone on the playground’s edge,
surrounded by a troupe of invisible ballerinas
who transform her frayed skirt into a flash of tulle
while others play foursquare and hopscotch
on the blacktop, she exercises her superpowers
by blocking out thoughts of her mother’s demons.
At night she crawls into bed, waking up alone
in the house at midnight—but nothing frightens her.
A swift cat scratch across her cheek imparts
no sting, she can hold back a decade of tears
with a single squint. Neighborhood children
never hear the words
that wrestle within her head, and even adults
struggle to see evidence of the mother’s love
her x-ray vision barely captures.