Our bodies did not comply,
with our one-piece suits, the type

that carve a girl
into a shapely S.  We were too flat
to care, too small, un-tanned,

but our mouths did reaching
hands were too young to do.

We fake kissed our wrists,
sipped cherry soda from sandy cups,

left lip marks on each other’s skin,
while boys,

chests bare, hands knuckle white,
slit the lake on skis.  When they emerged
goose-skinned, scaled with water drops,

it struck: desire, not between our legs
but in our mouths:
To breathe them warm

as broken bones in plaster.
To crush them
in the space between our lips.

To burn them at our stakes
and breathe
the boys they’d been.

That we had bodies of our own,
turning
supple as worked canvas,

that we could be sliced through easy
as the waves,
hardly rose to the surface of our minds.

Only the desire to be led to water
and asked to drink,

and also to lead.   Water stirred
by their limbs.
Our lips red, our lips turning more red.

 


The collective voice of the “girls” masterfully rendered, the reader lingers as well on the threshold between the body’s awareness—reluctant, still submerged—and that of the intellect, fiercely forming.
—Claudia Emerson, 2011 Ruth Stone Poetry Prize Judge