By Noelle Hendrickson
We are little. We take what
is ours. We smear juice,
we lie on dirt and face
swollen bellies toward the sun.
Childlike intimacy. Audre
spoke of this, I think.
A New Spelling. We are surrounded
by rhythm, our bodies pump
blood to our ears. What is soft?
Little girls, little things, a little
bit of uselessness. She takes my hand.
I watch her turn. The grass
in front of her mouth dances
to the beat of her breath. I like this;
I know I like this.
Friday night, 2021
A confession: I wanted
to feel again, so I met a woman
older than me for dinner. I told
my family I went grocery shopping;
changed my clothes inside my car.
The woman was small, pretty,
and asked about my day.
Reading the menu, she insisted
on paying: get whatever
you would like. Hair
in a sleek ponytail, small silver
earrings, a stern smile— I saw
her look me up and down
a few times. When we finished
she led me to her car, an
expensive model: I know a place.
While she drove up the mountain
a friend texted me the location
of his Grindr hookup. The man
was twenty years older; we laughed
and labeled ourselves gold-diggers.
I typed out: remember, we can’t
both be kidnapped before
I lost cell service. Overlooking
the city, the woman wanted
me to touch her chest, I admitted
that I was new to dating women
right before a fist
hit the car window. We jumped;
outside the door, young men
were bellowing. They began screaming.
The woman turned the engine
back on. Her hand tightened
on mine as we flew
down thin roads, as we
were silent. I wondered
if I was interested
in her. I wondered
if she was interested in me
and what we could
have done together, without
the dark, she tells me that
things like this happen. Can’t
let it bother us. She had
a way of making me feel
both whole & empty. At two
in the morning, I came back
through the basement door
gripping cartons of gas station
milk and a bag of bruised apples,
stood in the shower, scrubbed heavy
makeup off my body, noticed
my own shaking hands.
The next day, a family member
yelled at me for leaving the fridge
open overnight and said nothing
else. I wondered if this
was pride. I didn’t know what else
pride would even be.