Year thirteen, summer of change

October 26, 2007
By Bari Saltman, Brooklyn, NY

Year thirteen, summer of change.
Observing, peripheral learning
The curve of your hip, the fit of your bra
how long it takes you to straighten your hair.

Everything is different here.
Streets empty of shrieking children and the unclothed middle-aged
Playtoys napping under antique sand in the garage
No distractions
You are my emulation,
the technique I want (need) to perfect.

I eat your ice cream, your lollipops, the donuts you don’t want,
Not yet familiar with the count of calories
(The time will come when I am bilingual in excuses,
the rhetoric of skipping meals.)
One time pizza with your mother while you whispered into the telephone
All girlishness and come hither and painted face
Even though he couldn’t see you.

Peeking at labels (two) as we swim through your drawers (zero)
I squeeze into a bikini, it brands red into my skin
You show me your pocketbooks (one million)
And the first knife you used to cut your skin (sharp).
Fast forward to June, you are at the Cape with him
I am scavenging through boxes for a safety pin,
my baby wrist blank and helpless.

Pedaling past beaches cool and abandoned
Too early in the season
(Let’s call it drunk driving—
your parents were out of the house,
the cabinet unlatched and alluring)
I lag behind because I am not used to
biking without a helmet.

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