Gaia Rajan

We hated Alice, the ache of it burning
in our throats and coming up white hot

            when she won an audition or booked front page
            on county news, a profile full of people testifying

that yes, we knew her, yes, that girl,
she was really something. She was fleeing

            which I thought meant going places. She played violin,
            alone in that house with the pink floral wallpaper

and framed Bible quotes where God preached Himself
like a sparrow in heat. The miracle here

            is not that she spun her car into a lake that summer,
            or that the cops arrived an hour later to name her

dead, but that all anyone talked about after was her
playing Vivaldi, not smiling. It was almost easier

            to love her like that. Past-tense Alice dancing
            in clothes she stole from her father, stumbling

around the kitchen, some rock number
on the radio like the roar of his beat-up Buick,

            knuckling her down and down
            into the passenger seat, her violin knocking

in the trunk on the way to a concert. Her father
all dime-store reverent when she played solo,

            silent when she finished, the audience rising
            into prayers to make daughters like her.

Gaia Rajan’s work has been published in the Kenyon ReviewSplit Lip MagazinediodeMuzzle MagazinePalette Poetry, and elsewhere. She is the co-founder of the WOC Speak Reading Series, the junior journal editor for Half Mystic, and the Web manager for Honey Literary. Her debut chapbook, Moth Funerals, was published in 2020 by Glass Poetry Press, and her second chapbook, Killing It, is forthcoming in 2022 from Black Lawrence Press. She is seventeen years old. You can find her online at, or at @gaia_writes on Twitter. 

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