Crystal’s tough and street smart.

Show no fear and never cry.

That’s her mantra

and it serves her well.

She’s sixteen and has called this corner

home for two years.

She used to look over her shoulder,

always poised to run

in case they came looking for her.

They didn’t.

Now men pay for the things

her father took for free.

While they grope her

and move inside her,

Crystal closes her eyes and thinks about

the picture of the ocean she’s torn from a magazine

and keeps in her purse.

Sometimes when she’s alone

and it’s quiet in her room,

Crystal kicks off her stilettos

and wipes off her makeup.

She looks in the mirror.

Behind her eyes,

the tired blue eyes that have seen way too much,

She catches a glimpse of Elizabeth.