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.