Winter 2021 - Poetry

POETRY

Winter 2021

 

 

Despy Boutris

Girlhood

 

As if we never touched—

that’s how we look at each other now.

 

As if we never met up that night

we hopped the chain-link

 

and watched shadows shift into shapes

in the golden light. How we lay supine

 

in the grass, chewing Starbursts

and complaining

 

about our twelve-year-old molars.

How side-by-side we counted clouds

 

and named constellations, how I turned

toward you and watched the wind

 

wind through your honeyhair,

watched it curl like the current in the creek

 

by our neighboring farms.

There were no sounds but the song

 

of breaths, the cricket calls,

and the arrhythmic boom of a bolt gun

 

making contact with hogs’ heads

in the barn down the hill. Nothing to see

 

but the swarms of flies and your irises

refracting starlight. No feeling

 

but the terror of being touched—

the terror of wanting it

 

too much, of shattering. And the feel

of twin bloodblisters on our hands,

 

fireflies flying in lungs. Do you remember

our hands twitching toward each other?

 

There was still that hillbilly lilt

to our speech as we smalltalked

 

and bigtalked, the air

above our hungry mouths

 

turning to steam, our hands

two hot twigs making smoke. Then

 

you kneeled frog-thighed above me

and scorched me with skin, cut my breath

 

in half. How we brimmed with want,

even before we knew what want was.

 

And, as cattle grazed grass

and teeth grazed lips,

 

we learned what want was—

in looking

and not looking at each other.

 


Despy Boutri’s writing has been published in Copper Nickel, Colorado Review, American Poetry Review, The Gettysburg Review, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. Currently, she teaches at the University of Houston and serves as editor-in-chief of The West Review.




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