When a girl named Rainbow tells me

she’s living in her ex-boyfriend’s truck

in his sister-in-law’s cousin’s driveway,


I know she’s not fooling. Her mother

gave birth to her at fourteen in Arkansas,

she says. Because her teeth are half-rotted


nubs, I think of that smudge of a place deep

in the Ozarks I saw in a movie once, where

I could almost smell the methamphetamine,


though I’d never smelled it before, or lived

in a truck or gone begging

for a bag of food and a warm blanket.


How easy it would be for me, born

on the bright side, to speak of pity or guilt.

But that’s not my work here. Instead, this:


See the girl. Listen to her story.

Tell it to you. Maybe you’ll be the speaker of the poem.

Maybe you’ll be the girl.