The Giraffe Women, by Marsha Mathews
THE GIRAFFE WOMEN
Because their moms
and their mom’s mom’s
and their moms centuries before them
wore heavy gold bands on their necks,
the girls of the Padang hill tribe wear them, too.
Though they bruise the flesh and push
their spines till their shoulders slope.
Once on, at five years old, they’re on for life,
no reprieve, even at night.
Myanmar outlawed neck-banding,
in 1990, women fled
and settled in a Thai forest,
where tourists now pay big bucks to snap
photos of their lovely
poor things,” the American says, unable to cry
because the eyelash growth hormone
applied that morning
has robbed her dry.