Tumbling Through

by Robyn Joy

A Boy I Knew

My transition from New Kids on the Block and Teen Beat
slid into your locker with an eager hum. Painted fingernails

passed me notes full of deliciously strange poetry after study
hall. My hand twitched between the burgundy seats when you

wrapped your fingers around it under the darkness of Jacob’s
Ladder. You told them you’d be right back when we got to

my driveway, feverishly galvanized my insides against the
side of my house. After school, The Cure, clove cigarettes,

my brother pretending we weren’t making out in the backseat
of his Mercury Lynx. But every time I pushed your hands that

always pushed my boundaries hidden under my clothes, you
liked me a little less. I wasn’t ready for what it meant to be a

girlfriend. When we broke up, you had a note delivered to tell
me explicitly what I hadn’t done for you, what you still wanted

to do to me. The same handwriting that had once quoted Sisters
of Mercy now wrote the word “tits,” branding my skin with

shame. I wanted my body to die so no one else would see me
like you did. So that other boys would know I had thoughts.


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