Lost Girls

Lost Girls
Rachel Verkade


She is fourteen years old, in a compound in Arkansas

She stares at her marital bed, stained with blood

She says, “I don’t want to grow up.”


She is nine years old, in a village in the Sudan,

She knows that her date with the knife is coming,

She says, “I don’t want to grow up.”


She is eleven years old, in a small town in Yemen,

She looks at her wedding dress, white frills and smooth hijab,

She says, “I don’t want to grow up.”


Girls were too clever to become lost, they said.

Girls were too good to become lost, they said.

But what they did not know what that sometimes,



Girls want to be lost.


Girls want to be whisked away by the spirits,

Girls want to live savage in the woods,

Girls want to paint their faces and fight with pirates

Dance with fairies,

Girls want more than to play mother.


Sometimes girls don’t want to grow up.


And sometimes, beyond the second star from the left,



The fairies hear them.


Flying is trouble for them;

They have few happy thoughts to call on.

Sometimes the happy thoughts they have are bloody,

Filled with rage and vengeance,

And they take to the sky like hawks,

Arrow-straight and with purpose.


These girls avoid the boys’ camp,

And the command of the Pan.

These girls have had enough of tyranny.


For these girls are not innocent babes

Fallen free of their prams and crawled into the brush.

These girls have seen the world,

Seen its harshness, seen its blood.

These girls have carried water,

Tended babies, sewed clothes,

These girls know what they leave behind,

And these girls are glad.


The boys avoid them,

These girls who will not play mother,

These girls who dance naked in the jungle.

Shucking niqab and bonnet and ankle-length skirt.

These girls who smile knowingly when they are asked of home,

These girls who lost themselves.


And as these girls grow strong,

Wings shed in favour of breasts and curling hair,

They ignore the Pan’s calls to the jungle.

They have seen his kind before,

They know what waits for them there.


These girls take up swords and walk the pirate decks,

These girls share blood with the Indian tribes,

Becoming one with their spirit and family.

These girls sink into coves with the mermaids,

And some say that their legs grow fused and scaled.


And some of these girls stay,

Some of these girls wait.

They wait for the next fledgling to arrive,

Teary-eyed and frightened and bound to the sand.


They wait,

And they wipe away their tears,

And they show them how to fly.


Rachel Verkade is a 37-year-old woman currently living in England.  Her fiction has been featured in Pseudopod, The New Accelerator, On The Premises, Romance Magazine, Under the Bed, 365 Tomorrows, and See The Elephant, as well as the anthologies Lost WorldsTales of Blood and Squalor, and Enter the Apocalypse.  Some of her non-fiction can be found at The Future Fire and The Escapist, and her poem “Collyer” was published in a previous issue of Liminality.  She spends much of her time making sure her cats and homicidal parrot don’t eat her husband.