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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