First Love

my childhood god told me to love thy neighbor

& there she stood with two boat paddles in a sky-blue

one-piece. kayaking out in the cattails i felt each rib

break to free the aching, no extras between the two of us,

a matching set of pill bug lungs. we ate picnic apples

once our arms got tired & she quizzed me on horse

facts over her shoulder. i guess if god loved

symmetry he would have stuck my eyes on

right & even. maybe it was me he couldn’t love, too.

either way i couldn’t see straight, even back then with

my sunglasses & my god to protect me: the back of her

head brilliant, sunbeat & brassy. i was shiny, dizzy on

instruments of frog. we played mermaid & centaur.

i could never catch her. i caught my ankle on some algae

& screamed. she removed it as though it were gauze, spun

her hand to reveal the mock wound. she stopped inviting

me over to her house the fall after that summer, stopped

answering the phone when i called. i’d walk home from school,

past her family’s megachurch & praise my god by bashing

my head in with both of my fists to kill the thought of her & maybe

some little part of me hoped i’d hit the spot where

i believed in that god, too.

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