Elizabeth Cranford Garcia

Tween Pool Party

This is the chrysalis soup   arms long enough now
to span into ampersands their skin less and less
ambivalent they squeal ‽ in interrobangs ‽ an ache rivers
through them for wings to double the beat of the wind’s heart
with wing beats, the wing already a kind of heart its cells
paired to pace heat Little Sulphur called Clouded
and Cloudless   you wear your heart on your yellow
sleeves   yellow of my girl’s slippers that swish
through our halls   of jonquils splashed on her purse,
its black background the cloud brooding over
the glow of these girls poolside learning
what it means to take up space that no one
is never not looking. They ache for wings
the loss that will come with touch 
and the need for touching. They make
a game of this: stand at the pool’s edge
choose a girl to push in with a splash.
The rules ‽ protest ‽ but not too much.
Say ‽ no, no, no ‽ until giving in. I 
watch fearstruck already hearing 
what tales they will learn to swallow. 
But this is not my party not my place 
to interrogate ‽ which part of you is ancillary ‽
Which part of you is not a female 
servant ‽ One girl sputters and coughs 
from the tide she’s made a bang
in her bloody lip crying I almost
drowned ‽ They surround her with arms 
a yellow towel. A mom 
brings her a drink. 
Here, little butter-
wing. She sits at the side 
sniffling. Here, Little 
Sulphur. You are 
Clouded. You 
are one of 
us now.

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Elizabeth Cranford Garcia’s debut collection, Resurrected Body, received Cider Press Review’s 2023 Editor’s Prize. Her work has or will appear in Southern Humanities Review, Tar River Poetry, Chautauqua, RHINO, Portland Review, CALYX, and Mom Egg Review, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Read more at elizabethcgarcia.wordpress.com.