Gris-Gris, an online journal of literature, culture & the arts

Girlhood, 1986

by Jenn Powers


virginal bedsheets on the clothesline
strung between pin oak & white cedar,
green canopy sparkling with suneye: +++++++++I am life
here in old new england suburbs,
dusty yellow grass & fleshy tomatoes
warm from the garden, drink this
dandelion milk like school glue

at the splintered picnic table:
wig-wearing aunts, iv-bruised uncles,
& the crippled cousin swallowing
teaspoons of black syrup, bowls
of cold borscht in the rose twilight, two
crooked cats with tongues like pink eels,
licking up saucers of milk fat

red-cheeked & mosquito-bitten, hide
on the front steps, cement warm from
today’s sun & suck on o.j. popsicles
tasting like Tupperware,
across the road, teenagers lounge
in the back of pickup trucks: sip beer,
smoke, spit watermelon seeds
so they arch across the lawn
everything is ahead+++++++++++++++++++++ everything
unrealized unleashed waiting,
take it in before it’s gone, before
they’re all gone, before
you’re gone

on corduroy weekdays, there’s the time
of waxy candy corn & chalky conversation hearts,
garbage pail kids joe blow, adam bomb &
scratch ’n sniff sticker books plum good! ba-nanza!
neighborhood winds rustle the interior
of yellow buses, cat’s cradle, miss mary mack,
after school juice & cookies at girl scouts,
& leotard-dressed jazz class,
tomato soup at seven, cellophane sunsets,
thrust out the front door into evening
to play tag with icy hands, the taste
of dinner still in your mouth

if the sky is purple & the windows turn yellow,
you go inside, the cuckoo clock beckons
away, away, hide away in blue-lit
t.v. with atreyu, sloth, slimer—
so far away—so very+++++++++++++++++++ far away
are the silly grown voices, clinks
of glasses, another long day of forever,
shadow puppets on the walls, two a.m.
thunderstorms like gun shots—firecrackers!
the sweaty blanket, the dying nightlight,
the fresh breath of morning, blinding
like life