There’s a Girl

Katrina K Guarascio

There’s a girl
at the Route 66 gas station
asking for change.

You don’t have any,
but you offer to buy
her a soda on your credit card
as you pay for a pack of cigarettes
and a cup of coffee.

She is grateful,
says that’s all she really needs.

She’s with her mother,
a tired, silent woman,
grey hair greased to scalp,
sitting on the curb out front.
The old woman never speaks.

This girl has tattoos on her neck,
one by her eye.
Amateur ink scribbled
by shaking hands.

She’s thanks you again,
says she has make up to sell,
nose rings,
other small snatchable items
that seep out of her pocket.

You listen,
you refuse.

She won’t let you leave till you
take a bottle of nail polish
in gratitude.
It’s a color you will never wear.

You know her,
this girl,
with the too thin limbs
and chapped lips.

You almost were her
once.
Asking for change,
grateful for just a kind reply.

You still feel ashamed
for all you had,
that you let slip away.

She asks for a ride.
You lie and say you’re going the other way.
She nods, smiles,
knows where your line sticks.
Your eyes reflect each other
as both recognized the person
you could have become.

“There’s a Girl” is previously published in Chasing Rabbits (2014).