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Sherman, Katherine, Female Anatomy/The First Love is Always Platonic

SHERMAN, KATHERINE

Katherine Sherman
Age: 16, Grade: 11

School Name: Avenues The World School, New York, NY
Educator: Hilary Harnischfeger

Category: Poetry

Female Anatomy/The First Love is Always Platonic

Sundays
you. don’t you know
about selling your teeth last sunday,
and sitting on the sidewalk?
press a viridian pear between your breasts to keep it from bruising.
bushel berry branches and twig leaves.
stick it in your underwear drawer, next to the grown-up lingerie,
so he’ll know you smell nice.
you. i’ll teach it to you.
roll a backwoods, and hit it 
smooth.
come home to a graveyard of furniture—
and it is time to leave.
when a man says he does it out of love,
he means evil.
selling your teeth on a sunday.

A_ _a! 
the paint sign on the bridge-tunnel was overtaken by leaves in the shape of spades.
now it just says a_ _a! 
palimpsest.

i think you liked that it was an exclamation point, all rigid and unbending
like your embodiment, the way the girls on the bus would shout, 
“hey, anna!” and leave it tacked on, the way
the girls on the bus would repeat, “whore,” flexing muscles on their tongues as they
used their whole mouths up for it.
it was probably a marriage proposal once, 
now it’s all palimpsest, all art the way
it’s been used 
over and over 
again. 

we looked on from 
rubber-chain sweat dugouts, 
dust-art whorls on your shoes,
cursing mouth—filled with flies, and 
i wonder if eve looked anything 
like you. you reminded us 
of something we wanted to be;
like an older sister,
hateful, and fluid, and willing to be something other than afraid of the dark.

i think you said things cuz you liked how it felt to live inside somebody’s mouth. i think
you said things cuz you liked the reaction.
i don’t think you were stupid 
or pointless 
ever—hey, anna,

we looked on from 
rubber-chain sweat dugouts, 
that goddamn perfect nose,
cursing mouth,
and quietly, 
equally,
we loved you too.

Untitled
dominican rapunzel,
she and i will brush the sin out of your hair.
the flora-oiled, sloe hue that absorbs light,
absorbs everything;
takes into its nightly folds: your feminine ritual, the grace with which you walk.
like doll-hair, and you wish your skin could be china too,
and not so easily absorbing the stain: the vodka 
and nicotine stench whenever you bring your fingers up beside your face.
fourteen and a sleeping hollow in my arms.
she and i will brush the sin out of your hair.
and here the angling on death while so close to waking is the poetry,
and elsewhere i will always think of ‘fuck’ on the tongue as poetry,
poetry as breathing as saving,
poetry when i tell her his hands were on my neck—
poetry is girl-on-girl love without an ounce of sex.

Friends Say They Have Never Been in Love
i. all i want 
is to write love on a piece of paper.
   
          ii. i am a       doll, and she is a dancer;
grit our teeth. and wait for the maestro to break her.
   
iii. she doesn’t know she’s lying        when she says she doesn’t know love.
she doesn’t know,     like i never wrote love on a piece of paper, planted it between seaglass,
    an emptied whiskey-bottle; like a message in a bottle;    out to sea,
and we undulate:

iv. the hips of a drunk girl make violent planes.

v. i was never the type to have        pushed-up my body weight     off her shoulders as we kissed    like the greasy, loved-up handlebars on a    first bike, like a drowning man;    shouted it from the rooftops.
maybe that’s how:    in an instant, she missed it. the carpet,
we have christened 
in whiskey and menstrual blood,     and 
on the tv,    
turkish girls     with long brown hair 
like raw strands of 
cinnamon peel   
day-dreamed and revolted.