Last year, in Fredericton Mall,
a mother lost her little girl.
They found her in the women’s washroom
where two old ladies were cutting off her hair
and dressing her in a young boy’s clothes.
Wanted in Winnipeg.
Vanished in Vancouver.
Cheap alliterations in tabloid headlines
disfigure each tragedy.
Sometimes we think we recognize their faces.
This young girl with an old woman’s body
standing at a Yorkville window.
That other girl on Yonge Street
selling her body for drugs.
That flash of underage flesh
mounted by strangers
and glimpsed in a pirate video.
Do you call for call girls when you travel?
That midnight knock on your hotel door
is someone’s missing daughter.
You saw her once before on an airport advert
or on the carton of milk you opened
for your family’s breakfast.
What traveling salesman would you trust
to take your only daughter’s body and treat it well
while she promised him the sexiest time
he would ever have?
But in Goya’s Spain
it’s the males who disappear
usually during the night.
Most times, their families never see them again.
Sometimes, as in this etching,
their bodies are found, nailed to a tree
or dumped in a side street with the garbage.