At the edge of town, we trudged through the slime into dragonflies,
teenage tornadoes, breathless to capture them flying upside down,
backwards, sideways, luminescent blue, racing pulsed Persian rugs,
and then waiting, crouched, mud sucking our toes, for the male to
take her from behind between her unseeing eyes, kohl brown like
Nefertiti. In the shade of the cattails the beautiful ones fucked.

My friend Holly and I had come to this trench of old rain for the
breeding, the larvae leaving the water crawling on their three belly
feet, lamellas still pale with surfacing, wings stretching and drying,
spewing them out into the sky. Two dark-haired girls, one a bowl-cut
brownette, and the other a Lady Godiva with radiant white teeth,
crazy to sift from our skins and become fully grown nymphs. It

was this quickness, all the caught gaudiness, a lightning metamorphosis
we craved, sure we’d fly from this crackerjack town, escape the slowness
of Snyder’s Blue Ribbon, its sawdust-swept floors, its meat freezer where
the cows hung in beheaded trances of tallow and nakedness. Beaten
down by years of merciless office work, I slouch here before a monitor,
thinking my way back to endless summer. I spit Holly’s death into a
paper towel, friend who didn’t make it to legal drinking age,

her car speeding into Sunday morning’s iridescent sun, colliding with a
concrete divider. Her father and mother never recovered, her sister sat
outside for years chain smoking, but it couldn’t be quieter sitting here
typing my life away, no frantic male cleaning out the sperm of his
predecessor before he copulates, no busy burying of eggs, instead a
cubicle floats like the coming snow over girlhood’s brazen shadow.

:: Stephanie Dickinson, in Birmingham Poetry Review (27: 2003)

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