At school

the girls

line up

according to the height

of their elbows.

It’s a new rule.

The mothers


fill their shopping bags

with rocks

and hide

the receipts between their lips.

They each have a number

that identifies the birth,

that distinguishes “proper birth”

from “a proper distance.”

At home

the girls

drink lots of water

and dream

of strong elbows

to grapple with

as in a war.

Those who survive

get a snack.

The others race to the bathroom

to reflect

on their loss.