You want to know more about the city that birthed you.

And so, you carry the bolt cutters under your coat,


and struggle with the lock. You consider it,

the guts of your favorite building, abandoned


since 1991. Because this is the year of your birth,

it’s hard to imagine it wasn’t your fault.


Sometimes, you think about this, the events that occurred

on the day you were born. You feel validated by them,


as though the patent of a drinking straw or a digital clock

in some way justifies how you might think of yourself.


And suddenly you are reminded of your 14th birthday.

Your mother gave you make-up and you couldn’t understand


why she wanted your face to look different

from what it was, even though you had asked for it.


You, who have found bolt cutters, unthread

a broken chain from the door handles.


You stand in the center, under the great glass dome,

look up through the ceiling and see the Parisian Arcades


revised in this disaster of a city. How not to think

of depression, the stone slipping from your hand


and shattering the thin, worn glass, falling now,

around your head like snow. It’s winter again


and you find it difficult to keep your head safe,

keep your wits about you. As a child, you wanted


to be as gorgeous as a statue, frozen in the moment

of your greatest beauty, gorgoned. Sometimes, you’ve noticed


a statue can look alive. It can look right at you in a museum

or on a marble column in the middle of the road.


You’ve seen a dead body once, and you must admit,

it was like looking at a statue maybe. More alive than dead.


A statue can look right at you and force you to consider

whether or not you are the body that breathes. Here, beneath


the glass arches of the Dayton Arcade, you may as well

be made of stone. The frozen sky breaks through


the glass and floods the grand hall, a shower

of sparkling. Your body, not a statue of a girl


but flesh and blood. Hold your hands out

to the flood. You, who cast stones.


You who hurled the stone, and now what?

Was it for the want of blood beading


from the glittering shards of the Arcade?

You, a love affair with the ruined. You, who wanted


this kind of reveal: your skin and your city, a likeness.


Tara Westmor is an anthropologist poet, raised in Dayton, Ohio. She received her MFA in poetry from New Mexico State University. She has been published in Gravel Magazine, Driftwood Press, and The Sink Review. Tara is currently working on the curation of an anthology called Anthro/Poetics.