My Nine-year-old Daughter in Pompeii
- By Kevin Dobbs
- Published 09/19/2009
- MaverickMagazine 15/16
Wants to know where all the little girls died
But this time doesn’t ask if it hurt.
She points into an archway just in front of us,
A room, one of the few with a roof, and claims
Girls must’ve died in the back: the shadows are
Unnaturally dark, dense and hanging
Like black fans. We move closer and to the left,
Making the shadows warble as though alive into
A black, blacker than black. With another slight
Shift of our bodies they spatter up the wall like fur.
My daughter is delighted. Now she’s seen
The world’s most thoroughly combusted, how they can
Change at light speed. She dashes into the pavilion,
Looks around, chugs some bottled water. I can tell
She wants to play with the girls of Pompeii.
She’s mumbling to them, her arm motioning,
Cutting through the light, a light so invasive it pushes
Her features out into a buoyant daze, as though she’s
Picked up a kind of phone, a best friend on the other end.
They must be with her now. They follow her, weaving
Through lines of pillars, up and down paths.
She stops, turns, motions them to hurry—as though
They’re not fast already. In the city park, which
The dead girls must know far better, she skips in
Circles, figure 8’s, arms out like wings, as though
She can even fly better. I hope she won’t
Take them too far away. I hope she just wants to play.
Copyright © Kevin Dobbs, 2009. All Rights Reserved.
Kevin Dobbs returned to the USA
recently after 18 years in Asia. He’s Dean of Language Arts and Fine
Arts at Yuba College in Northern California and has placed poems,
fiction, and essays in many journals and anthologies including Chelsea,
Raritan: a Quarterly Review, The New York Quarterly, Carolina
Quarterly, Florida Review, Sou’wester, Soundings East, Poet Lore,
Mid-American Review, Beloit Fiction Journal, Karamu, Gulf Stream, Writer’s Forum, and New Delta Review.
View all articles by Kevin Dobbs