We Were Little Girls

for Tammy, Talia and Sage

We were little girls without breasts or hips.
Your skin light brown, mine bilirubin white.
You on a ten speed, me a dirt bike.
Five boys surrounded the building site.
It had been raining a long time. There was mud.
Rich honeybrown Illinois mud.

We stepped in gingerly, until –our thrill!—
we were up to our knees in liquid earth.
We wrestled there like girls, best friends,
not to hurt or dominate or pose for boys,
but for the fact of mud slick on our skin,
matting our hair, staining our terry cloth clothes.

I don’t recall the tactical wrestling
as much as the practical joy, Tammy,
the daring doing of something girls don’t do,
and the awe of boys who did not join us.
We walked home caked and proud as the sun sank low
to your little white house with red brick façade,

set up on a steep lot we used roll down like logs
despite itchy chiggers. We rang the doorbell,
grinning. “Hi, Mom!” we chimed loud.
Your mother’s blue eyes were huge and mock serious.
“Not in my house! Out back! Garden hose! Now!”
Remember? Squealing, we poured cold ropes of water

across the muddy continents of our girlhood,
brown rivers tracing the valleys of our knees,
flooding the plains of our hopeful chests and sloping bellies,
skinny arms and legs raising hair like new trees,
raising up the brazen women we would later be,
quaking in the half light of a late September.


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