Colorado, 1996 by Mia Nelson

Not so far away
were red anemones
with the opulent black eyes of goldfish.
redolent in its own misery of not being able
to touch them,
gave the flowers the hard, sweltering smell of summer
far away from the city
smacking nothing of the braids, hand-me-down chalk
and loud ambulances in the slow, gymnastic heat of midsummer on
the end of the uptown train. so strange from the concrete  
that our old ladies on birch street insisted an egg would
fry on, waving their hands near their faces, thick arms
swinging back and forth, yes, sir, a whole egg could
fry out here today.
the flowers were cool, clean bowls
of spooned black berries in their
center. we slowed down the car so
I could stick my hand out the window
and touch them, count their adolescent  
petals and listen as Mackenzie explained
that these are called excellency flowers.
pompous, really, haughty even, these flowers
that we stomped our baby feet on so as to
pull out lunch and talk about the boys we
almost let touch us. saying, his hands were
too cold. someone confessing
that her favorite part of a man was the back
of his neck. we all like to notice
things nobody else notices. we
all like to pretend that someone loves
the back of our necks with the same
feverish want, the same kind of
fall over on the black pavement thinking
about sugar cubes and the small ticks of his
fingers. we held hands like sisters and
for a moment really were. we looked out
over the yellowish plains and pretended we
were at the beach. sister, someone said,
hand me the sunscreen. better yet, put your
hand delicately over my eyes. use the same
swift and sweet and tender motion of a small
nervous boy unfurling my hair. run into the grain
to tell me you love me. you loved me because
we are the same. both of us in too big
dresses laughing and crying at the
yawning, unrelenting sky reminding
us that heaven loves our shaking
bodies, our locking knees,
so much
that it would break its heart to let
anyone touch us.
the suspended loneliness of girls
in the summer. each of our skin
like glass urns, the ashes of want
wanting nothing more than to spill
all those red flowers,
wind blowing through their
dresses. even they had to die to be held.
O, God
how I prayed in August that
someone would come and love-me-not.
me and her,
we danced like hurricanes,
licked vanilla ice cream from each other’s fingers.
&their black eyes watched and watched
and watched.