12 Degrees & Skiving

what began as year-long challenge has become perpetual until further notice

April 18 – echo

with preraphaelite eyes
hair aflame in june
she read the last page
closed the book of the moon
thought all men
from then on
should be for her
 young and comely
armour filigreed to blind the sun
the book of the moon
promised
white dresses, perfumed feet
held hands and breath
gauzed summers ever laced
with dragonfly fiddles
blackbird jaunts
and perhaps the song of a fish 
in a silver brook

no one told her otherwise
nor of the heat
she felt when in the quiet of herself
mistook for the onset of spring
mistook for loneliness
later, and later, and later
mistook for love
no one told her
save to tell her:
never talk to strangers
and the stranger in her head
so gross and bearded
smelling of onion and tobacco
for the book of the moon
had stitched this to her sensibilities
the ugly patch on the silver
the necessary balance
the warning to the princess

she was blinkered against
the plain, plain boys
the dulcet and kind
with mismatched teeth
searched out the moon’s projection
found at last her prince
the new boy at school
that february
he interrupted her routine fantasies
found she furnished them
around his presence

his attention flared
her butterflies dashed themselves on rocks

he bought her a daffodil
she giggled at its nodding head
they skipped class 
and paired in the unused toilet block on the soccer field
clumsy with want
in shining new pain, she tried her best to close
her eyes lightly
dragged from her mind a goosefeather mattress
to soften the concrete that met the small of her back
the cisterns played the part of the brook
from the book of the moon

his attention sputtered
ah…she was not blonde

that was all, she was sure of it
because
other girls from other classes
who had begun to cluster like jonquils
around her prince
had starlight threaded about their heads
and it was everything
suddenly
a singularity that crushed
her fantasy to a teaspoonful of desire
infinitely heavy

so she leeched the sunset from her hair
so she hedged her brows to angled lines of urgency
so she captured the sun, lacquered it to her skin
she ate portions the size of her palm
only air after 2pm
smoothed and straightened and played gaunt
and babbled his clever, clever words back to him
laughed gorgeously when he laughed
and still
when her kohl eyes grappled for
his stone-green gaze
it rested somewhere to the left of hers

then slipped in a doubt
could a book lie?

he stopped asking her things
she walked out of her way to
accidentally
be his crosswind

she followed him to his schoolbus
he alighted and –
he was smiling though the window
watching her

she stayed her arm too late for the mad wave
humming there for the fluttering
his eyes were diffused
focussed on his own, sunlit in the glass
could a book lie?

he rode away and she turned
covered in the dust of her knowing
and there was another
a blonde girl she’d never noticed before
watching her through the artroom window
she smiled
and the girl smiled
she said hello
and likewise did her reflection
and said

you know
you should never talk to strangers

P1150645

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