summer camp

the younger girls giggle and write “gay” in marker down their arms.
when the sharpie letters start to fade, they draw pictures
of girls kissing girls on each other’s backs, use the term
“raging lesbian” to describe their barely pubescent bodies.

the older girls talk about touching themselves,
about how sometimes in summer a body is already
so slick it seems impossible not to, about the way they trim
their nails. about how it is hardest to keep your hands
off yourself. the younger girls listen with their mouths open.

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Not yet —

Her voice cuts late summer wind over the ankle-tall waves.
The air smells like lake-water.
A familiar rottenness and small things
not yet dead.

This is a show for people in love: heat fattened geese
skim their bellies, the woman plays with a loose wrist,
gray skinned couples dance hip-to-hip.

I read my Sylvia Plath novel until it is too dark to read.
Keep my collarbones bare for the stained sky,
picturing the singer tracing them with a broken string.

She shrieks a familiar line
missing sentiment and note.

I imagine Otis Redding rising
water-logged skin splitting like fresh fig,
cracking the surface of lake Monona.

 

 

 

Afternoon in the Mountains

Yesterday I took the afternoon and went up to the mountains with one of my best friends that I have been close with for a long time. We don’t get to see each other often, so having a whole day together was really wonderful.

We drove up into the mountains in search of a river that was fairly accessible, and didn’t require too much work to find a good area to climb on river rocks and wade around a bit. After some initial exploration to find somewhere without any people around, we found a lovely little spot to spend the afternoon.

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This was one of the highlights of the afternoon – we found a hellbender salamander! These are the biggest Salamanders that live down here – over a foot long! This guy just crawled up right next to us while we were hanging out on a rock. I picked him up and he was the squirmiest, gooshiest thing I have ever felt. That is the face of pure joy.

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I swear mandolins sound better in the mountains.

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Ways to See

there are ways to see him that do not involve his hands.
the soft bones in his wrists, the invitation of his veins.
The sharp points of his grin, the way continual
expansion feels inevitable, but the vaults in his cheeks
pick up the slack.
The cusps of the toes he rises to, catching
the note he’s aiming for between his teeth,
falling back on the haunches of the breeze.
There are ways to hear him without imagining him naked,
but not many.
The tension of skin over bone or a flesh painted skeleton
with dried heaps of acrylics in eye sockets.
The space that connects his thighs and pelvis
where I imagine my nose would fit well.
I am again imagining him naked.
There are ways to feel his body without the use of my hands.
when i kick him beneath the conference room table
i can feel his bareness.
when i lick his condensed sweat off the walls
of the hallway, i am reminded of
unsweetened coffee and melting plastic.

Home Again

After a month of traveling, I am back in Knoxville, Tennessee. I got home the day before yesterday – I meant to write sooner, but it has been challenging to think of what to say, and I still don’t really have anything concrete yet. That, and the last couple days have been kind of busy. Yesterday was my birthday (I’m not a teenager anymore!) which was celebrated with an afternoon in the pool, dinner downtown, finished off with carrot cake. It was a nice way to ring in the next year of life.

Getting home after a month of traveling has really allowed me to appreciate all of the things that are available to me most of the time: daily showers, good refrigeration, hugs whenever I need them. It was a long time to be mostly alone. It was a long time to be out of any sort of routine. It was a lot of granola bars, a lot of meeting new people, and a lot of days spent with a sore back from nights in the car. There were a significant number of downsides related to living like that, but I think overall it was positive. I feel different. More self confident. More aware. Readier for whatever is next.

Which, immediately, means heading out with my brother tomorrow morning to Rothbury, Michigan for Electric Forest. I’ll hopefully have a more comprehensive write-up about my trip at some point. But for now, it’s on to the next adventure!

 

Hikin’ gal

Today’s adventure was a hike up to the top of Mount Olympus, Utah. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it ended up being an incredibly challenging hike. It was around 7.5 miles, which isn’t too bad, but over the course of the way up, I climbed 5,000 feet. It felt a lot more like walking up stairs, except there were no stairs. And it was 90 degrees. And I ran out of water. It was hard. There were a couple times I thought about not finishing the hike, but I am glad that I stuck it out. Now that I got the whining out of the way, I can focus on the good parts.

The hike was so beautiful. Their were some views of the Salt Lake City valley and the Great Salt Lake on the way up, but then at the top it was the views of the other mountains that really were my favorite. I also got to climb some rocks on the way up- including one that was a straight drop on the other side. I am afraid of heights, and was shaking the whole time, but I managed to pull it off.

Some pictures are in order, I think.

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