something of the smell of her, summer ripe,
all honeyed & suckled, fallen from a cloud

of girls clawing their mosquito bites
behind the dugout bleachers, was she

ever for a moment free of it, the body,
not the body but the expectations of

the body, for the body, did it bite
like a beauty, the way he told her only

girl, love, love, licked the spittle
off the self she hid beneath her clothes.

you know the story, chip salt & bubble
gummed lip gloss, an afternoon of grass

& beer & the cover of a cluster of trees,
if you never learned you have the option

to say yes you also never learned you can
say no, & anyway she knew she was supposed to

like the cherry of it, glowing the end of his
cigarette in a hollow made of smoke, she never

knew what happened in the black after
the camera cut, just that the credits rolled

& rolled, & nearby a pigeon beaked spilled fries
& cola cans, a trash of a sky spread its pinks

around the sun, there were, she had only
just learned, so many ways to not make it home.



Emma Bolden