August

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In the summer we let our feet run black with dirt and pavement.

Our heels pounded the sidewalks, our skin slapped the streets;

each bound stung a little more than the one before.

We refused the claustrophobic nature of sneakers,

wanting only for our feet to feel the pulsing earth.

 

Our fathers prepared hatchbacks for trips,

constantly checking engines and tire pressure.

We waited in gas-station parking lots, windows cracked,

breathing in the sweet petrochemicals that excited us most.

We dreaded leaving the car for too long, knowing that when we returned

the air would be thick and stale. Seat belts would burn our bare arms.

 

We bit our lips when we concentrated, and our mothers would slice orange smiles

begging to be devoured, only then to sting our tenderest skin.

We washed in cold baths, having let the warm water sit for too long,

and allowed our fingers to wrinkle and prune.

The air smelled of laundry detergent and burning wood.

 

At night we’d wait to hear the foxes in heat

sound like screaming women, so we lost ourselves

in heaps of moist sheets and feather pillows.

Only after the 11 o’clock train from Annadale came past

could we finally close our minds and rest.

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