Out of the bus and
into the afternoon we
descended, smelling of rubber cement and vinyl.
That’s her—gone giddy in the negligent sun.
Antoinette flipping her hair like
an ocean wave
so it fell again and again, a dark hem across her back.
Antoinette tooting her recorder between houses halted
in foundations. Antoinette of adult
words: of fuck,
and damn, and blow job. Antoinette of basement gin.
Antoinette of Thorndale, PA, of Couldn’t Care Less.
Truth is the woods were full of ticks
but you said let’s
cut through, said you have lots of blood, plenty to share.
We spat into the heads of dandelions to make cocktails
while the lilacs by the edge of the
road leaked tart sugar
to tempt bees into the evermore deranged air. We weren’t
about to head straight home, sutured instead the gash
of asphalt with our curious back-and-forth
our honeysuckle promiscuity. Antoinette of stain
and loll, of not missing a thing and not knuckling under.
Once you lifted your shirt and showed
me your nipples
which, unlike mine, had begun to swell away from you.
They looked like the softest buttons, halved olives.
Antoinette of inauguration and Now
you smelled like forever, which is—I understand—wildness
cored by knowledge. If it weren’t for the hazard of your eyes
upon me, I might have buried my face
in a bank
of lilac bushes, might have never come back to the world
in time to see the sun blotted out by clouds, a storm ripping
the sky in half like a failed draft,
in time to see
our parents divorced, furniture shimmied into U-Hauls,
Andy losing his eye to a rogue lawn mower blade.
Do you remember, Antoinette, the time
we lay down
in Mrs. Ackers’ garden, the carrots we were not allowed
to eat dirt-dark beneath our backs, all our envy grounded?
Because of you, my Antoinette, I knew
that if I entered
the fray at dusk I’d be an element of weather, a clattering, a clot,
lightning bugs constellating my mind, the smell of lazy boys
and Spam so far away they would never
reach me. Elsewhere,
of course, there are other Antoinettes who jump rope, who lick
the edges of cheap ice cream sandwiches, who have a thing
or two to say about cake.