Superstition in Girl Years
I’ve been warned about a pond in bloom—
standing water, fence strung so cattle can’t get in.
But adults always tell it like they miss it, the days
of leech mouths pinched off skin. Meanwhile,
I’m trying to be a version of myself I’ll someday miss.
No one seems to notice. Every time I brave a stare
into the burnt eye of a pig roast, someone creeps up
to nab me under my ribs. Whenever I build a pit
from foraged rocks, they say the fire might make one pop
me on the nose. Or I’ll wet the bed. My biggest fear
is fluster, so I don’t flinch when the tinder cracks. I’m careful
to catch the squirm of my face, to blink as if there’s no bother.
I risk loose cradles of spiders in the cabin shower to wash
the smoke signals off. Sleep is more a meditation
on not peeing. The raccoons in the trash are not the sound
that something’s found me in the dark. I know it’s the wait
in the will-it-or-won’t-it that makes me want everything
to have happened already. When it does, I’m sure it’s quiet.
The too late kind, almost cautious, how coyotes pluck shadows
until rabbits, stuck on barbed wire, jingle softly in praise.
Haddie & Missy
kissed each other. They were cool.
They covered their eyes in charcoal. They looked good
in shirts, baggy or belly. They smoked, too.
So we waited for old cigarette butts
and pressed our lips where they did.
We were ordinary. When you asked me,
would you be my— the last word was easy
to guess, but we didn’t know what happened next.
So you stopped and I didn’t start.
It became secret to wonder why our bodies
stung whenever Haddie and Missy laughed.
Jessica Franck is a Hollins woman who calls Minnesota home. She is currently a Yusef Komunyakaa fellow and MFA candidate at Indiana University.