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Poetry

At secret slumber
parties, Ruth and Ruby
burst out of back rooms
transformed. Their own
version of ascension: loosed
hair fanning pubic bones,
shrieking louder than
the rest of us. No bonnet,
no beckoning
church. Strong legs
in borrowed Levi’s,
our lipsticks strewn
through sleeping bags.

§

From stolen stacks of their brothers’ outdated
films hoarded for rumspringa,
we watched Insatiable
Sandy and Delilah Dives Deeper, transfixed
and wondering how
much we really needed
to know, how we needed
to know our bodies. We tried

other worldly things that most had
before us, convinced what we did cost
more: feathered bruises on thighs
and the pang of new words
later slapped from our faces. Tequila
and TPing the whole town
square, an innocent mess that fell in
soggy clumps by morning. These
were our common rebellions.

The English have no rumspringa.
Our testing of the world never ends.

§

Home on a visit, I see her
in the produce aisle: the New Order
Amish girl who once kissed me
hard. She has become
what the tourists mean to capture, looks
back at me
as if studying art

that scares her. A baby silent
at her hip, another barefoot
and cloaked in the folds of her
dress. I say her name with a question
mark. She smiles, looks away from my city
clothes and hair shorn down
to inches, my body medicined
against the threat
of children. Her free arm

reaches
for what is still needed; the other
firm, so practiced
at keeping in place
what she already has.


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