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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