Caroline, or Girlhood is Just a Series of Small Deaths
We’re twelve year olds and draped over the plaid sofa in your living room. Your brother’s CD of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness plays in the background. Our eyes are closed. The tops of our heads barely touch in the middle of the center cushion. Our legs hang over the sides of each armrest. We’re practicing telekinesis. You’re sending me a message that I’ll repeat aloud once it’s materialized in my mind. I’m emptying myself—becoming your perfect vessel.
We have a vague sense of our porous vulnerability. We know that telekinesis probably isn’t real but we also know, from the Scholastic summer reading list, that if there is a moment during a lifetime to become telekinetic the moment is now. We’re starting small. You send me a red apple.
Our houses are separated by a patch of red clay and power lines: kudzu and rainwater creeks cover an orange lunar landscape. There are ways to cut through but we always take the sidewalk by the highway.
I’m wearing a Care Bears ringer t-shirt, no-bra, platform Sketchers, and your high-waisted extra wide leg JNCOs. My lemon bleached hair is shoulder length and triangular. You’re barefoot and wearing black Levi 501s. Your breasts are bound in duct tape underneath a button-up polyester 70’s floral top. Your hair is long, blonde, and wavy. You’re the first person I’ve ever loved (and the first person I would ever abandon).
We take a break from our psychic practice to eat Milky Way bars. We take a break from our Milky Way bars to throw up their sticky sweetness in your guest bathroom. We hold each other’s hair as we bend over the toilet. I understand this as true love—our bodies sharing a secret destructive bond—instinctual and performative. When we’re done we each re-apply cotton candy lip gloss.
You tell me that it’s the anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death. I pretend to feel sad about it, but I’ve never actually listened to Nirvana. Years later, Elliott Smith would kill himself on my birthday and I would feel that same dumb need to fake mourn.
For the Girl Who Raised Herself
by Chris Blexrud
... She’s like a church in a mine / where work and worship / join blistered hands...
by Kenton K. Yee
... I want it flighty, I want to fight it / until it liquefies ...