Two Poems by Nicole Greaves


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Her Hair Like Ivy


The ivy grows stronger in neglect,

scales the walls, becomes reptilian:


beauty does that, unleashes like

the uninherited. This is why she cut


off the wave of her hair in one stroke

and held it out like freshly caught prey.


But her father sent her to a summer

in her room, making her wear her hair in a bun


until it grew back as long as her spine

to divide her. In the fall she danced


the landler in full regalia with her brother,

her father pressing the accordion


in and out like oxygen. Her hair

whipped around her in the twist


of their arms, their push and pull,

our applause into prayers:


We were the girls who loved her most,

who had combed her cornsilk hair,


who knew how we were

always trouble to ourselves.



Becoming You


All day she’s suckling,

a feral thing


that would eat itself

to death. She has become


what she once fed

under the wind chimes,


something that cannot

look at me, or is it me who cannot look


at her? The world in this light

is the truth of it, why


some girls cut themselves.

Close enough, her breath is the inside


of the cocoon we opened,

old books where flowers


are pushed in like tattoos

highlighting the longing.







Nicole Greaves holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University, and a certification in secondary English from Bryn Mawr College. Her poetry has appeared in The American Poetry Review:  Philly Edition, Jacaranda, Calliope, Cleaver Magazine, Acentos Review, Friends Journal, Matter, and she was recently a finalist for the Coniston Poetry Prize held by Radar Poetry. Her work has also been awarded prizes by The Academy of American Poets and the Leeway Foundation of Philadelphia. In 2003, she was the poet laureate of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Much of her work explores themes relating to tensions around acculturation, gender roles, and class. She teaches at The Crefeld School in Philadelphia.






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