There were signs, I suppose. First she stopped lining up with the other kids for ice-cream sandwiches and chocolate bars. No dessert, she said.

Then it was her hair: too greasy, she said, and her skin too shiny. At the drugstore she wanted many things.

Later her eyelids were lapis and her lips were cherries. Something glinted in her navel. She was ready to go, she said.

Still later she folded into herself, unmoving, her skin pale as milk.

A bunch of them clustered at the stove, lustrous as peaches. I could almost see the sap surging up, stretching and curving them, and I tried not to panic. The magazines, the billboards, the boys, the men, a whole world full of sirens and songs.

Oh, my girls, my girls, caws the crow from high in the branches. How short and fragile the spring.