Our Own Soft
everyone told me the winter would be bad but
no one said it would be cold all of the time.
it hasn’t been over forty degrees in over five months
and the lake keeps freezing and thawing and i’m less for it.
for now, it’s 10pm and twenty degrees and my friends are all smoking
cigarettes shirtless outside for the second night in a row.
it seems unfair now to live the life i wanted at fourteen,
but here we are.
my 9th grade self keeps drunk texting me things like
“get home safe,” and “can you buy me fireball,” and
i can see her sitting cross-legged in a circle in someone’s
upstairs bedroom in borrowed pajamas with a red cup
and someone is telling them all what it was like to
have sex with a boy named jack or rob and
she’s asking me what it’s like but i’d rather her remember it
this way: small, but significant and eventual.
i don’t want to tell her what’s coming, that the first time
will scar because she won’t say yes, that it won’t be
the last time, that sometimes it’s not fact, it’s
whoever gets there first and says their version louder.
she shouldn’t have to know that sometimes it’s not fair to
have a body, that no one tells you how to know
whether or not you wanted it if you didn’t scream or push,
that sometimes the absence of yes is a dry mouth.
i don’t want her to see this part, but she has to
to know why the time by the water mattered so much
the river salt and that kind mouth. right now,
i don’t think she knows it won’t be jack or rob,
that it will be those long smooth legs draped over
our lap like folded laundry on a Tuesday morning, simple and
happening. this will be the real start.
soon, she’ll know how love will make her unknown to herself
and she will be glad for it, grateful. everything will change
and it will end, and it won’t, and she’ll live.
but for now, i say, “thank you,” and “no,”
kiss her goodnight.