Daughter the Warrior
By Meggie Royer

The father from Yemen who lives on the upper floor of our apartment building
reveals that when he was first teaching his three-year-old daughter English
he named every object in their room with a different version of I love you.
His daughter would go up to strangers and hold their palms in her small ones,
point at their fingers and call each one You are breathtaking,
name her toothbrush Please stay with me forever.
This always reminded me of the couple they dug up from Pompeii,
all petrified bones and piles of ashes,
their skeletons curled around one another like willow trees,
how even the archaeologists and paleontologists with their fancy tools
couldn’t separate them.
To go into everything and call it love,
even the grave,
when no other words will work.
And when the rocks volleyed through the father’s window like a string of bullets
along with the chants go back to where you came from,
his daughter pointed to them amid the shards of glass on the floor
and said I love you and so I forgive you.

Meggie Royer is a writer and photographer from the Midwest who is currently majoring in psychology at Macalester College. Her poems have previously appeared in Words Dance Magazine, Winter Tangerine Review, Chanter Literary Magazine, Literary Sexts Volume 1, Hooligan Magazine and Rib Cage Chicago Literary Magazine. In March 2013 she won a National Gold Medal for her poetry collection and a National Silver Medal for her writing portfolio in the 2013 National Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. She also has two published poetry books, Survival Songs and Healing Old Wounds with New Stitches.