He is your first Catholic boy. You go to church with him once and his mother tells you
that you can’t take communion because you are unbaptized. This is fine- it’s a ritual that
He says that his family prays to Saint Anthony when they can’t find something because
Saint Anthony is the saint of lost things. Something about a thief and a stolen book of
psalms. You’re not sure, but you like the notion. You like the ring of the words. You
know nothing of religion but too much of pretty words and losing things and you take
solace in the saint of lost things, even if he is not for you.
All your lost keys and cards and socks are held somewhere, maybe. Are maybe held and
Losing is familiar, but loss you are less certain of. You don’t know what it is that you are
supposed to lose to this boy. You don’t know if you lost something the night he took you
camping to get away from his parent’s house. If you had some kind of sainthood. It was
freezing in the tent and your limbs were logged with wine, and you kissed him back and
you cried. You don’t know if it was giving or taking or finding or losing.
This is your debt. Give me the days when the sky was the color of bleached bones. Give
back every breath that lunged from my lungs like a renegade train. The nights when my
vision faltered like a broken film reel. This is your debt to the ghost-girl who had panic
attacks in grocery stores. This is the obituary I wrote for her. I am not a girl. Because my
body is a derelict house and you shattered every window and I am learning how to live
here. Because my body is a bomb in the basement of a rotting structure. Because my
body is a butterfly knife that dares men to dance with it. Because my body is not a paper
doll. It is a paper scroll, the unfurling space where I write fuck you in lipstick. Where I
write the inventory of the things that you are: the aftertaste of bad wine. The half-moons
carved into my thighs by my own dirty fingernails. Crass laughter and sparse stubble.
Every joke that you ever made about rape. My body is a naked livewire charged with the
choked anger of girls. This is a pulse-code, a telegraph from my coiled and sparking
spine: if you pick up that tin-can telephone again you’ll strangle on the cord. This is the
last letter and there is no return address.
The highway unfurling through the spruce; the sun-gilded downpours; the Kinks album
spinning endlessly on your stereo; my feet on the dash and your hand on my thigh; the
archaeologist hitchhiker we picked up in Eagle River; the narrow bridge over the
Talkeetna where a man on acid once fell to his death because he believed he could fly
and there was no one to save him in the wildness; the guitar you picked on the silty river
bank; the blueberry wine we swigged in the dark because no one ever taught you how to
build a fire; the sputtering flame I finally coaxed from cinder; the half-memory of things
murmured in your tent; the slow spread of naked morning light; the confluence of creeks
like veins; the photos you took where we looked like beatniks on the top of your car on
the side of the road; the fleeting notion that we were immortal- that we could have flown
from a bridge in the middle of nowhere.
TR Benedict’s work has appeared in Broad! (a gentlelady’s magazine) and Jeopardy Magazine. They live in the Pacific Northwest and dabble in poetry, short fiction, and visual art. They daydream about smashing cis heteropatriarchy, becoming a farmer, and adopting a baby bunny (not necessarily in that order).