by Haley White
Bright sandy blocks, tarred road glistening
with early summer heat, the shortcut
through the graveyard after school, buried
in this familiar suburban maze, mid-June.
You are fourteen and overnight you have
a body, and they say your body is grown,
and this calls for crude words, grown
words, thrown like sloppy bombs
from cars by men. Something about tits
and ass, something about coming.
So you cut through the graveyard, you trample
the ghosts and the freshly mown grass, the
half-grown grass that reeks of summer.
Your friend inhales deep and informs you
that this is how the cut grass screams and
you want to scream but instead you smile.
And when you are finally fifteen your smile
earns you a sophomore who drives
his dad’s old pickup truck to the skate park
every afternoon, lounges in cheap sunlight,
sells freshmen skinny seeded joints,
sells you a saccharine daydream.
You ride in his passenger seat, glide steadily
past the graveyard to the end of the world.
The truck is nearly hanging in the ocean. Now
all you need to do is smile and be soft and still
as he teaches himself about your body, your half-
grown body, your half-grown ass. Quiet
as his hot breath fills your ear, something about coming.
And after you fall out of his truck onto your front lawn
and climb the stairs you gape at the peeling walls
in your childhood bedroom, and you are
convinced that your body is a graveyard
or an experiment or a vacant lot. You cannot
stay asleep because you are desperate to evacuate
this body, this half-grown graveyard crammed with ghosts.
Haley White is an avid reader and writer of prose and poetry. She graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2018 with a B.A. in Psychology and English, and hopes to become a therapist specializing in female issues and trauma. She lives, reads, and writes in Beverly, Massachusetts.