Curtains Opened
Plastic push pins clamp the window's skirts open. From behind the tree outside a someone watches as I work math problems on my bed, rearrange teddy bears on shelves. He wasn't there when we moved in and the tree spoke to me in twig messages scratched on the glass, but when my breasts rose under Rapunzel pajamas, when the first egg went unused and my body flushed out a red nest, he appeared. When I turn off my light, sneak along the wall, and spin toward the glass, catch only branches and moonlight, no one is there, but he is looking. I change clothes behind the bathroom's locked door, but when I arrive at my room in a knit nightshirt, he observes the cloth curving, runs his eyes over taut places, slack places, and I become a looked at, an observed, an evaluated. I jump under the covers, avoiding the window's stare. He's not there he's not there. If I don't look at the window, if I do look at the window, if I hum, if I snap three times, he's not there. No man is there; every man is there. If I pray, he will watch me praying. I pull the covers over my head. The charge around my body neutralizes, and my skin becomes my own. I unfurl my mermaid tale in secret. My room is three safe walls and one dangerous one.

REBECCA BALCARCEL 's first book of poems, Palabras in Each Fist, came out from Pecan Grove Press in 2010. Her work has appeared in over forty journals, including Third Coast, North American Review, and Concho River Review. Balcarcel took an MFA from Bennington Writing Seminars and serves the students of Tarrant County College as Associate Professor of English. She also gives talks, readings, and presentations in her community and beyond. Triva: Balcarcel once biked 1300 miles while pregnant, skydived once, and nursed identical twins.