Lily Greenberg

To the boy who thinks his body, like a woman,

a thing to be controlled. Purify by fire
you say. Pain: of the mind. Discipline:

island in the distance to which you swim 
daily. Get out shivering: I have done
what I did not want to do. Someone’s
father is proud, but not yours. Whose

mother is speaking and where are your
ears? The wisdom of the body blooms

as it wants. The body bleeds to no moon.
Sometimes the moon is on fire. See,

change. But I have killed the clock, you say, 
and my good body wakes without alarm.

My good body is a quiet house awake
to the wisdom of sunlight. Whose yoke

have you taken upon yourself? Words
prickle up your arms. Heat of the spine.

Heavy head believing itself light.
The body is speaking and you say, This is 
the test. You say, I need nothing. You
say, I am infinite. I say, you are alone.

What I Learned as a Girl Scout Was How to Play America

We set up table in the sunniest patch of curb
and to the people of Kroger, we were easy
charity in our little brown vests. We sang
We’ve got Thin Mints, they are divine.
Samoas, Tagalongs are favorites of mine.
Tasty, crunchy, oh so sweet,
Girl Scout cookies are such a treat!

Oh America, give us your money.
Pay for our suite at the Grand Ole Opry,
our room-serviced sundaes,
our elevator screams. Hotel manager,
thank us for our philanthropy. Tell us
we Scouts keep the world a good place.

Like this we earned
the Cookie CEO badge,
Adventure Camper badge;
charged entry to Jordan’s pool:
Business Owner badge;
dumped suds on mini vans: Car Care badge. 

America, pay for us to sleep
in the glass shark tunnel at the aquarium
where the hammerheads press
their horrified mouths above us:
Animal Habitats badge.

What a white, beautiful world
full of good citizens and many thanks!
Somewhere else the boys tied knots
and wove baskets and made model airplanes
that couldn’t fly anywhere and had nothing
to do with the real rules of Suburbia:

Maddie said Ew! at the dark hair
from Jordan’s swimsuit line:
Good Grooming badge;
Peyton smashed the pasta bowl
so ice cream for dinner again:
Simple Meals badge; Use Resources Wisely badge;

I was twelve and my parents told me
not to talk to my sister anymore and
Maddie stood on a cafeteria table
shouting Lily’s sister’s on drugs!:

Responsible For What I Say And Do badge,
My Family Story badge—

As a Girl Scout I understand
American Success I pledge allegiance
to my country I serve America’s God
at all times I have the Buying Power badge
on my honor, I have tried

What I Don’t Say

grows legs and kicks me.
It follows like one deer after another
across the highway. Don’t touch me
I’ll walk rain-soaked
before a ride in your truck don’t
stop for me. A parable:

          One man promises a farm, two mountains,
          and ten thousand turnips to a second man.
         They raise seedlings to fruit—
          every bit of flesh, they sell.

          The first man says more.
          The second does not say
          I am hungry and cannot grow.

          Driving silence up
          the mountain, a woman arriving
          to two men is a rock thrown
          into a pond, breaker of clouds.

I tell you now, words will walk
out of my mouth and gather at your bed
like bad-dreaming children.
There your gray yard is ungrowing.
Your kingdom a circle of swallows.

Lily Greenberg                            

Lily Greenberg is a poet from Nashville, Tennessee living in Portland, Maine. Her work has appeared in Kissing Dynamite PoetryAbout Place Journal, and Third Coast Magazine, among others, and her debut collection of poems In the Shape of a Woman is forthcoming with Broadstone Books in 2022. She is a 2021 Breadloaf Scholar and the 2021 recipient of the Dick Shea Memorial Award for Poetry. Lily earned her MFA at the University of New Hampshire. Find more of her work at and on Twitter: @lily_greenberg.