There is never an easy way to break
confidence, so Jade tells me
in the softest way she knows how
that she knows
why I am always searching for cures.
She admits that she’s been there before too,
searching for a second skin
that doesn’t feel so foreign to her.
She tells me about the
river, and how all of the cattails
kept following her, kept whispering
incessantly about the mosquitoes,
about the way they said that
her eyes looked like the moon,
juxtaposed so beautifully against
her freckles, sun spots so lovely that
they looked like mosquito kisses.
I tell her that she needs to
forget the cattails, and
forget their cajoling in her ear,
because that’s exactly how
they found the bodies last year,
two girls washed up on the riverbank,
tangled in the weed stalks and
peppered with mosquito bites
all over their skin, red
stark over their tan, like
the inverse of apple bruises.
I tell her to be careful, to
learn to discern the difference
between the voices of the wind,
and to buy a citronella plant,
because when it comes to mosquitos,
there are no such things as kisses.
She knows this,
She looks at me, looks at
how the edges of my eyes
also curl into crescent moons,
and tells me that she’s worried
I’ll forget, because she
read the news reports and
those drowned girls also
believed in a separate sort of grace,
told themselves they’d never
fall victim to meaningless words;
but there hadn’t been any words
that evening when they heard
the cattails, and heard the buzzing,
and told themselves that they’d be strong.
The river had a strange way of
telling them that no matter how
much they looked like the moon,
were blessed by the sun that had planted
kisses on their cheeks, they would
never be the girls that would be able
to love / to be loved —
and they felt it in their bones
the night they last saw the stars.
If anything, Jade tells me,
it’s not that we should fear the cattails,
or the mosquitoes, or even their lies.
If anything, we should caution ourselves
against the danger of lingering thought,
and all those that planted these voices,
the cattails, and the mosquitoes,