Northern Florida, Thirteen

It began in a season of cicadas,
of somersaulting, of popsicle-lick,
of even the dull cramp and frank blood
unable to shake us into transformation.

We had spines that wanted
no attention.

Until the pool days, chlorinated
and showing us our apathy
for the lip line, the hip
jut, the ransom the others put on their bodies.

So we trimmed our fine fuzz
and slicked our legs with oil.

We roamed baseball fields
and pulled everything into death—
the tall grass, the lightning bug, the
Virginia Bluebells turning away in disappointment.

We played at it
before we felt it like a hot
slice down the core,
exhuming whatever sense of personhood we had.

A throb, a gnawing
oh god we thought we’d invented it.
Disappeared across the chasm
only once thinking it possible to step backwards.

As a last attempt, we ran so
the muscle separated from the fat
but we knew then we were nourishment
for ourselves and all flesh
for someone else.