Nikki Lyn

by Aimee Seu

                    … in thy voice I catch
                    The language of my former heart, and read
                    My former pleasures in the shooting lights
                    Of thy wild eyes.

                                                             —William Wordsworth

The minute I saw you I felt like ducking into
the bathroom together and getting so high.
To go back to before we had driver’s licenses
and steal my mother’s car again.
Sprawled on the trampoline in the dark, deep July
eaten alive, its rusted springs and uneven legs.
Was I that wisp of twirling smoke?
The empty yearning air in a littered bottle,
back when a little got us a long way.
Painting our nails on the floor as the cats
walked around us. Blowing bubbles
beside the halfpipe, little perfect disappearing
things. What a prize to make boys weep
our names as they jumped from high bridges
into the reservoir. What a pleasure to let them descend
into violence: our bodies like bloody steaks dangling
over the lion pit. I can admit now in adulthood
that men are more often handed the world.
But they’ll never know the feeling of being eighteen
with your best friend, hair like two blinding cyclones.
Sunning in bathing suits, our belly button rings
and pelvic bones were like the engines
of drag racing cars propped open for show.
Each of our limbs a tendril of iridescent panic.
I’d hate to see what men would do
with the power of being a woman.

Dear, dear sister, a hacked-off portion of my soul
will always be in your mother’s house where we
are falling asleep in our towels after a shower passing
a spliff between us. Sitting on the counter in pajamas
talking shit as the ice cream rapidly melts. And later
sneaking out, one leg extending silently
through a first-floor window, then the other.
Who could have stopped us at the chain link
with the wire cutters? At the gas tank with the sugar
and spice and everything nice since
what girls are made of. And three a.m.
in the abandoned ballet studio, all those
broken mirrors ground down to glitter.
Something we spent gluttonously then
I’ve been paying back ever since.
Our sparkling heydays, a haze.
Sometimes I miss your fingers’ swan dive
down my throat to help me break open.
People said we hurt each other
but imagine having been alone
with the breathy acetone and flat iron,
eyelash curler and other devices of torture.
I think now we were miserable
and didn't even know.

                    Years after 
when we each circle back to this shitty blue town
for a night, I drive to meet you and see ghosts
of us on every corner. In the bar I know
your cosmic amber freckles, your laugh
a little hoarser. Chewing on the silver
name necklace you’ve had since six years old.
I say you look just the same, but you don’t.
Your thick acrylic nails like bedazzled talons
stupefy me, as they grip the gold hunk
of a Louis Vuitton. Your hair dyed irreversibly dark.
I’m wearing long sleeves to hide the tattoo you gave me
in tenth-grade with a demented electric toothbrush
all blacked out now by roses and feathers.
I don't mention grad school. Our lives 

thrown in opposite directions
the way two bodies might be
flung from the same explosion.

But say the name of a boy whose face I’ve forgotten
remind me of a party I carried you out of
or some girl you decked in the dark for me.
Because when you look at me over the last garnet sip
of your old-fashioned, I can feel my face reflected
back to you in the deep well-water of knowing
how monstrous we’ve been. What kings
of some small world long ago
that got so very out of hand.
Where we stripped out of our hand-me-downs
and got into the principal's pool wasted
as the night and the water and the gauzy light
pollution would have been if we hadn’t.

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