A Girl Drowning

By Suzanne O’Connell

“Keep the knees closed and the mouth shut,”

the grown-ups instructed.

But my ears—like my mouth—had been stapled

shut in earlier years.


On the bank,

the grown-ups laughed and ate sandwiches,

waiting for me to die.


Above me, the moon exploded

and the trees smelled like sweet

camphor and open perfume bottles.


I felt a flame inside my body.

I wanted life.

I wanted to sizzle with life.


“We’re still waiting,” they yelled across the river.

“You will have to speak louder,” I yelled back.



Suzanne O’Connell lives in Los Angeles where she is a poet and a clinical social worker. Her work has been published in Atlanta Review, Reed Magazine, The Griffin, Sanskrit, Permafrost, Foliate Oak, Talking River, Willow Review, The Tower Journal, Thin Air Magazine, The Evansville Review, Serving House Journal, Licking River Review, and others.  She was a recipient of Willow Review’s annual award for 2014 for her poem Purple Summers.

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