Parts of Town

November 13, 2008
By Phoebe Salzman-Cohen, Ridgewood, NJ

i. Feet
I’m the only one wearing sandals
because it’s October and I like the way
my freezing feet collapse against my ankles.

We’re all walking somewhere, and no one’s
asked where
Shoelaces are dripping behind us
and we stumble on each other.

ii. Ankles
Graham’s hair crowds around
the edges of his socks and stops
When he ties his shoes I can see it
and his skin looks scared.

iii. Knees
Donny likes leaning against walls to gossip,
letting his legs fall down. His jeans
are clinging to his knees

They can’t hold him up and he’s shaking
but everyone’s looking away.

iv. Waist
Nina wears big belts
because they make her look rounder.
When she’s waiting for her salad it
draws a line between her hips and her stomach

when she takes it off her body is translucent.

v. Chest
At the coffeeshop, we’re surrounded
by girls who only remember Scott’s name.
Their shirts can’t hold their chests
and he shrinks into his ribcage

They stand on their toes and look down
like he’ll never be big enough for their breasts
and he can’t stop pretending to smile
for us. He won’t close his eyes

vi. Shoulders
We stand outside the movie theater
because it’s too late to go in,
and I can’t see past Tom’s shoulders.
When he laughs his sweatshirt
stretches across his back and lets me see him

The fading lights hit the side
of his face like he’s in a tunnel.
He smiles at everyone and I look
because it might just be for me.

vii. Neck
I don’t let myself look up
and my head hurts less when it hangs

It’s hard to keep track of myself
and I forget what I sound like when
I try to speak

viii. Face
We couldn’t see each other’s faces
when we left and afterward I tried to ask
what I looked like
No one could remember. When they turned
in my direction, they were
trying to forget themselves.

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