Ocean big as her thighs. Ocean big as her name.
We teach ourselves how to cure razor burn
with honey and oil, and how to curl our lashes
using safety pins, and how to fling curses
and other big girl words into the sand of Jones Beach
like an apology;
We lick the back of our teeth
and our tongues catch on the cracks
from lost enamel because our older sisters
taught us that the toilet can be our best friend
if we want it too. We ignore the silver
scars on our fingers. We ignore the burn
on our throats. We ignore Lisa who isn’t like us
because she’s diagnosed and she’s in the hospital now.
We pretend we are women. We tell fraternity boys
we are sophomores at NYU and Columbia
and they eye the shorts our mothers said we couldn’t buy
and smirk with canine teeth. When they kiss us, they pretend
we aren’t lying, and we do the same.
There are bonfires that sputter and bikinis that stretch
too tight and the weekend we spent in Jane’s summer
home in Montauk, our legs so long we seemed impossible.
There is the afternoon at the pool where we
pour vodka into our water bottles and tanned drunk.
There are morning afters and the taste of Advil
on hung-over tongues.
Our mothers have doe eyes and our fathers sigh
when we ask for money for tank tops
and sterling silver belly rings and nail polish,
and it is a summer of firsts. The first time we
examine the geometry of our bodies, the first time
we lick the salt off a shot glass, the first time
we bite our lips and say ‘I am in love’.
We did not love those boys, we did not love
the heat, the skirts, the air, the city. We loved
the girls we thought we were, and at 16, that,
that was okay.