Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2017  Vol. 16 No. 2
an online journal of literature and the arts
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You think this happened only once and long ago?
—Marie Howe

Windows open, I hear cicadas
peal like bells. They won’t die down
in this heat. On my bed, knees bent,

I anchor a mirror between my ankles
and breathe. They say the first time hurts,
that touch changes a girl for good.

My arm is just long enough to reach.
I press myself, nothing breaks. Circling
my fingers like a wand, I wait and wait.

The hum of cicadas comes after they lie
for years underground. A hundred
translucent shells intact, latched

onto my house. They trap light
like paper lanterns, crystallize
in gold. That’s how I first witnessed

the body’s seams, sun caught
in between. They worry open
on their own. This happens all the time.  

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