dawn lonsinger







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 bodies,
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 & Laters,
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.