Hay Fever

August in Elgin County and the letters peeled themselves
off the sign and melted to the ground in the unbroken heat.
Vacation Bible School at the Bethel Tabernacle,

where after services we taught Sunday school
in the low-slung brick. After the shepherds
were colored in and popsicle sticks crossed,

we crawled behind the organ to the warm, secreted space.
The dust motes swimming in the shaft made you sneeze
but you just laughed. Hooked your fingers in my mouth.

You could have been Judas, blushing in the milky wash of light,
but we didn’t kiss, not even as I rolled your stockings down.
The pollen, you said, gave you allergies—so did the dust,

even as it blanketed our bodies in space. Around us, summer
fleeing the transept, chasing the warmth of some greater thing—
a body without clothing, inflamed with our want.

We sat like good girls, palms crossed without touch.
You are older now, and we are far from that place.
On our separate coasts I think of you kneeling and what happens

to girls who name each other’s bodies prophet.
Our cloistered sweat and how genesis flickered in the spaces
between, until we learn how to lose each other again.