It smelt of wildfires hazy
and sun-bled. Bike chain grease decoration
on unshaven legs. The summer, the river, the green
and glistening. Docks of tetris'd towels cigarette
shaped women. All waterproof mascara tanning oil perfume
sunscreen suffered in beach bags. Mothers had hoped
they’d wear it. For the wrinkles. But the girls
tracked their value differently here. Sunkissed
sucked stomachs in.
Still learning how to love
the self in every season. River’s riparian eyelashes
sway. Jump off the dock and like every cruel lover,
the cold swallows air from my lungs. Below
shielded by the rippling surface, water
weeds latched to the achilles.
I’ve always thought there were monsters
down here. All the floating, the billowing, silt suspended
and fish-eyed. Seek a forever-friend out of me.
But I’m just another drifting thing.
I’ve been measuring the curve of the Earth
against my thighs. A plea. Algae
greets my reemergence. Garnishes
The dock, its own dynasty. Delicate
flowers woven into hair, pretty. Choke themselves
a portrait, pretty. A thing to nail to the wall,
pretty. Somewhere amongst rapid polished rocks,
they imagine a camera. Which is just another man’s eyes
molding, praising, preying. Watch all women I know
diffuse. Feather out into the smokey sky.
I’m ashamed to say I submerge.
The hydrosphere greets me
like she knows. Sees me a living fossil.
Ancient thing in the eyes only. Peel
them open to see absolutely nothing
leering. Can you believe it? If it wasn’t
only me, the girls growing gills could start
a kingdom down here.
McKenna Ashlyn received her BFA in Creative Writing at Boise State University. She gravitates toward queerness and girlhood in her poetry. Their work has been featured in Progenitor Art and Literary Magazine and Sage Cigarettes Magazine.