I collect heat and retreat. The dog rests on the wooden floor, fur thick and dirty from the smell and roll. Hair and skin cells dot air and surfaces. My wound remakes itself into pink skin.
I hear someone call out mom. I reply. Outside noises make me wonder if the call out was mine. It was because I hear a never mind reply.
I’m listening to the noises, wondering at the oils that taint my hair with rugged body. It’s a look that always hears the junior boy tell me he’s never seen a girl with her hair such a mess. I stop washing it every day, defiant so many years later. But really not defiant, just bored and wondering how to do something new. Something small that won’t keep me up at night. Because doing something big feels too risky. It seems like I might trade my shaky happiness if I turn to sharply toward anything.
I can’t sign up for a writing class. What if it goes not the way I need it to go again? I’m not interested in learning that lesson again so soon. Even as I circle classes and wonder, I still grow strong with my not taking a class. I read the poems I like again and again until they live in my brain. I swim through my suffering because Melissa Stein is wearing a groove between my neurons and I am firing toward self-knowledge.
The self that can’t decide what is next. I sit in my stewing. My stewing notes the bumblebees gorging on anything that is pink. The birds bathing in my yard’s dirt. The dust on every surface that plays with the air. Even though that’s not science. Science is my daughter’s brain remaking itself at the same time my skin shuffles back together around the thread that closed the wound that I made while making lunches for a girl who is no longer a girl.
The breeze carries the future in through the open door. That’s as close as I let myself go: feeling the air circulate along my skin. My younger daughter closes the front door.