Marjorie Baker and I walked after rain
to the lake we didn’t know was manmade, plunging white feet
into rimless water to hear our birdboned voices cry out from cold
and nothing in answer.
Both of us girls, technically. Age eleven, my hips wiry and boyish. Her breasts
already full, her arms sloped and rounded.
I almost laughed when she, a full foot taller, sank hip-deep into mud, grasping at reeds, legs whelmed by flooded grass
all but washed up and hoared.
A child’s fear of death: dying where no one can see you.
I put all my weight into pulling her by the forearms, screaming and digging nails in her skin, fearing I would have to live with that vision of half her body sticking up out of the ground.
But soon the earth loosed
and out she came, short nothing but a flip-flop, and we ran back
in tears thinking we had edged a place we could not recover from.
Unrecoverable: at age fifteen, I’m driven to an empty house by a man
in the dark. Everything below my hips paralyzed, blackened.
It is me half-sunk.
The mud back then a pelvic rehearsal,
unreal, in the end nothing like
the panic-sound of leaves torn by deer against my window before sleep,
my chest under pressure, under
the shoulders of a man who locked all the doors