Sleeping all summer beneath your open window, humidity seeps into you

From the ravine, a breeze—the creek vibrates, the deck creaks

Footfalls: a possum/ a raccoon/ a coyote investigates—sitting on the sill, a cat hisses low—the
rock beds, breaking retreat

 

Carousel hills and valleys—ripe air sips fuel, lapsed hours, the night circles

Exorcise first love, circle his house, Bikini Kill on blast, hands courting the wheel

        There is no good man for your bed—a good man never held a rebel grrl

They’ll leave a few pennies under the pillow for favors you fought to refuse them

 

From Charlotte’s house, a half-mile to Overton Park, bitching about love—twilight teases
shadows

Happy accidents, skirted, kicking rocks from beds—you lost your shoes in the dark; walk
home, scoring miles into your soles

 

From incipient sex under Vulcan’s bare ass—moonlight shivers, threadbare, in December

To the wrought iron mare planted outside your window, her kicked-up heels rusting, the
platonic arc of a cold metal neck

 

Sudden pressure against the cold locker, another boy’s body folded over yours, unyielding

“Do you like that, faggot? I bet you like that a lot”

 

At the Five Points’ mouth, a traffic violation—then a copped feel, cupping your ass,
pressure against the car side, his arm against the back of your neck

He brushes pollen from your shoulders

 

A lament for your stoic youth, for spoiled opportunity: what laws didn’t you defile

 

If you should be more loving to yourself, is there any better you can do—would that be
enough

 

A grrl can only kiss her own fingertips so many times

Cock without cognisance, motion without emotion, untrained glory: he sleeves you

How many insights in public bathrooms, moving cars, before she is sated

 

Scour downtown’s parks, touching wrought iron statues’ scars

Here lie sanitized histories of civil unrest, cement wetted with anger now brittle

From indiscernible, sepia-tone prints and periodicals in secondhand stores

An exegesis of summer drought: in the 1940s, white flight cemented over a lake where your
house is now

Some nights, you hear a water pump emptying the pool where rock beds are now

 

Forage trauma in beds of history razed for the railroad exhibition

        After an afternoon frotting, yellow lawns flattened, a rash raises your pink skin to contact

 

Over time, the waterfall pump oscillating colored lights, pre-recorded ducks looping year-
round—everyday seems for you a pre-ordained spring

You climbed into magnolia tresses in spring, scraping scabs from your knees, from the
trees’ elbows

You waited there for dad to get home from fishing; fishing trips became more frequent

A repeating pattern, you pricked fingers on holly first, then lit candles, burned leaves—your
fingers, twigs; knuckles cracking, a dry breeze

On Sundays, you competed for your Sunday school teacher’s attention to spite his daughter
who called you faggot

 

What a time for anger

To be anything but a woman

Valentine Conaty

Valentine Conaty

Valentine Conaty hails from Birmingham, AL. In the past three years, she’s lived in four cities in four states across the Southeast and East Coast. Currently, she lives in Queens, NY with a partner and a ragtag family of practicing artists. Her work can be found (under various former aliases) in THEM, Educe Journal, and Right Hand Pointing.
Valentine Conaty

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