“we didn’t used to be this way”
i look up a history of beauty. a history of cocoons. black and white photo of a 1920’s actress,
hip bones jutting like ivory plates,
i live off honey. girls cluster. compliments fall off tongues and roll into a corner. nectar. give and you shall receive.
my mother has a fixation with flowers. it was always the monsters on them that grabbed me. i took blurry photos of spiders when my sister ran
and people used to poke my shoulder blades. they stuck out enough to be wings. it is hard for me to distinguish between feather and bone. angels vs. anorexics, what’s the difference?
when the women in my family cry, our bodies shake so hard they vibrate
we are wasp-waisted bumblebees trapped behind a screen door.
when we were young the lawn was a forest we traveled daily,
painting sunflowers with blue nail polish on the back wall of the tenants house, where no one could see.
there were handprints there and they weren’t our own
we worked around them.
Where are you?
Where are you?
mid may and the loquats fall like blazing suns. my father goes outside and collects bowlfuls. they sit in the kitchen until their yellow turns brown, because how can something be what it can’t see?
seasons go by. seasons goodbye. dad leaves house. loquats die on the lawn. no one to put them in a bowl.
tenant lives in the studio after the lawn. she’s pretty like the girls you hated and wanted to be. she paints your sister’s nails gray. you remember the sunflowers.
tenant moves. new tenant. elias. he serves in the army, you think?. he complements your camera’s zoom lens. you smile. thank him. raspy voice. tenant lives. you go away one weekend. tenant dies. “brain aneurysm.” his family cremates him. he is still here. mostly, he sits impassive in the loquat tree, staring down at you. but sometimes he visits the sunflowers, taking pictures with a zoom lens.
years spin. like the wheel on that tv show you can never remember the name of, even though it’s obvious. new tenant. her motorcycle sits in the driveway and has cobwebs. once in a while you sit on it. she doesn’t mind.
it is cold outside. you do not go there much anymore.
cat sleeps on grave of other cat, by the new tenant’s house. cat is ok. new tenant has dog. dog is ok. old. not as old as elias.
wind chimes. bird head rots in lawn (cat?). body weeps in sunflowers.
popsicles and front stoops, mid july, jean shorts frayed at the edges. we picked at the lose strings
we picked at the fabric of our lives and lies
summer between sixth and seventh grade and we talked about boys cause we thought we were straight
and katy perry kicked her high heeled boot at our faces. we were scared so we listened to her on the radio
we longed for something greater
freckles and pseudo tans. tampons and target bras
i am we are still trapped in that moment
heartbeats linking us together. trapped in shaking cages
piled on the back of a dusty ass pickup truck
driving us from girlhood to candyland.
how many times have we told you you can’t walk around after dark
cold air cold stars rain trees blowing leaves like my city is a whirlpool of
It’s not that we don’t trust you, it’s just
streetlights and rain. asphalt turns to diamonds. fresh air
it’s not safe for you
our voices filling the gaps between the rain and the earth magic returns to us
shady people out there, it’s dangerous
the night turns us into something beautiful we are in control these are our roads
no catcallers to burn us because the california night is a cloak like the sea but our mothers are wondering where we are
you’re just a girl
cell phone rings over and over mom’s too nervous behomeintenminutesoryou’regrounded
artemis sits in the moon and stares at us with her knees tucked up asking herself
why a girl
can’t walk anywhere