Once when I was harmless
and didn’t know any better,

a mirror to the front of me
and an ocean behind,

I lay wedged in the middle of daylight,
paper-doll thin, dreaming,

then I vanished. I gave the day a fingerprint,
then forgot.

I sat naked on a towel
on a hot June Monday.

The sun etched the inside of my eyelids,
while a boy dozed at my side.

The smell of all oceans was around us—
steamy salt, shell, and sweat,

but I reached for the distant one.
A tide rose while I slept,

and soon I was alone. Try being
a figure in memory. It’s hollow there.

For truth’s sake, I’ll say she was on a beach
and her eyes were closed.

She was bare in the sand, long,
and the hour took her bit by bit.

  • Carmen Giménez Smith, “Photo of a Girl on a Beach” from Odalisque in Pieces. Copyright © 2009 by Carmen Gimenez Smith. Reprinted by permission of University of Arizona Press.

  • Source: Odalisque in Pieces (University of Arizona Press, 2009)

Poet Bio

What People are Saying

"I cannot say enough about Poetry Out Loud and what the program has done for my colleagues and our students. I have seen what this amazing program does for poetry lovers and poetry skeptics alike."
Craig Lawrence
2014 IL POL Champion Teacher