Birthday

by | Feb 14, 2017 | Poetry

 

When you were fourteen your bones
sprang from your body like knives

edging along a cut
of lean meat

shoulder blades sprouting feathers
wings half-clipped in the trimming

back of childhood’s wild
edges. If innocence is a thing

that can be measured
it can be sheared—slowly

and suddenly at once. Sex was
an abstract image shifting

in the shadows of your small brain
mechanics muted behind the eyes.

You still saw a soft tangle
of skin not the angles

the dry rubber squeak
that could make a body suck

in its breath and wish itself
back to the chaperoned party

the moon bounce with boys’
gangly limbs flying their physicality

safe at a distance. You could have cracked
an egg on the hard-candy shell

of their hair, set the whole world
on fire with their flammable smell.

You couldn’t have known you were safe
at a distance too before your flesh

became a vessel for them to fill. Years
yawned between pylons of knowing,

your withy legs stretched in a slow run—
catching up to the fact.

 

Marie Landau is an editor at the University of New Mexico Press and a member of Dirt City, an Albuquerque-based literary collective. Her poems have appeared in Gnarled Oak, Red Paint Hill Poetry Journal, Yellow Chair Review, SOFTBLOW, Eunoia Review, and elsewhere.

 

 

 

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