Bodies

By Libby Svenson

We spread the book out between the oil stains
on the floor of my garage, and traced our fingers over
the diagrams that would later decide our fates. Everything
You Need to Know about Your Body, and we didn’t know
anything. My training bra was digging sharp creases
into my shoulders and his ear was swollen, bloody
from where he pierced it with a safety pin,
while the other boys watched, smoke rolling
from their lips behind the middle school, silent nods
of approval. The woman on the page
stood with her legs spread wide, arms at her sides,
taunting me. Someday
I would be her – I would know how to twist my hips,
how to smile and get what I wanted,
but for now, I stumbled over the pronunciation
of my own anatomy and looked at the boy sitting next to me
and though we could point at the pictures
and tell you what was what, we couldn’t identity
the feeling of the blood rushing, our cheeks
reddening. At that moment, maybe the time bombs
inside of us started ticking, counting down
until we were those labeled figures, until the days
when I walked past, staring at my nail polish
as he and his friends cooed at me, until
his hands forever smelled like rust
from the gym barbells, until I was a woman, spinning
in the dressing room in fancy dresses, and he was a man,
seeing red, driving fast; counting down
until the day they found him
in the ditch, two bullet holes in his head,
and asked me to cry, even though our bodies
predicted this long ago.

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