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Ashleigh Lambert



Space Makes So Little Provision for Disaster


The girl locked in the attic is not

those kidnapped unfortunate Nigerian schoolgirls,

or eternal witness, eternal teenager Anne,

or that girl who went missing but was found

close to home, clad in cult garb,

held as wife of her captor, and

            there are so many attics

and so many girls held as wives of their captors

who don’t live in attics,

but rather, in bedrooms, in basements, in camps

in Iraq, in makeshift tents

that leave them exposed

to the elements

 but not to the eyes of their neighbors,

            and some of the captors are

horribly, their fathers, and some of the girls

give birth to their siblings

while previous sibling-daughters look on and learn

the sound their fate makes

when it’s born into this world.

            The girl locked in the attic is not the first

Mrs. Rochester, or Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s

Jane, or Zelda

incinerated in the institution,

only one poppy-bright shoe

remaining to ID her. This attic

girl is not feral and neglected,

made and then made to abandon

her humanity, to disembark from the species,

to become a bell,

            an urgent clanging in empty space.

The girl in the attic wasn’t carved up

with razor blades, or broken with a bat

and left there to die, and the girl

in the attic is not Flowers in the Attic,

wholesome, motherly, romantic, raped.

What is it about our attics that imagine family

bonds into handcuffs, the inescapable

lined in padded satin?

Who gives the attic

            permission to corrupt us

all the way down to our unplumbed basements?

            The attic is too close

to flying off the house entirely.

The attic, it’s not like you and me.

The girl who is locked in the attic is not

down to earth

             (the highest

compliment for a girl in the Midwest)

It’s harder to care about someone

who asks for it. And the girl in the attic

is definitely complicit.

            She’s the support beam. She only needs

to fall down


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