beautiful boy lashes himself to a microphone in a storm, counts out self-blame for woven static, his bones equivalent to knives carapace reflected armor with a jagged red edge, polishing his boots with scabs. sidewalk crack silent lips. stifled hurricane eyes.
do you remember when you were twelve and I was eight, lakeside summer sick with stone-fruit, twined rope knot bracelets, sunset fizzed like lemonade when you guided fireflies into my hands listen: neither of us knew how to spell fear there is a man in a cabin locked these fifty years and his eyes are lost marbles, his fingers are snakes. we drank gasoline juice in swim trunks stapled to splintering chairs. he was the shadows of dead trees on your window at night. Listen: it should be me with algae for eyes, wandering forever barefoot over pine cones and gravel. My fingers wound through fishing hooks. My gravestone teeth. except you pushed me out his front door, your hands more ungentle than I'd ever known.
(I sat up all night with your changeling corpse; your parents didn’t notice how the seaweed mocked your eyelashes.)
hear me through the cracked ice in that winter lake, hear me through the scrawled palimpsest of your skin. If the cabins awake and the pine trees catch fire: keep watchful, caged barbed-wire boy. My sneakers still slap the fastest in all of New Jersey. Here is my slingshot and the memory of raspberries. My glow-stick crown. If the drowned man tries to touch me my tattoos will melt through his hands. I've got the snarlvines of forest fire sunsets, an armada of wild geese and tadpoles to steal you back.
I'll tell your parents, here is your son; seaweed-scented with a wounded raptor's eyes, chestnut-stained nails, hands cold enough to steady close. Feed him your casserole. Wash all the softest mint-green sheets. I'll point out the castaway boy in the man's rolling voice, salvaged and mine. How we've both drifted home.
Kayla Bashe is a writer/actress studying at Sarah Lawrence. Her work has appeared in Vitality Magazine, Liminality Magazine, and The Future Fire, and her suspense/magical realism/subversive romance novellas are available from Torquere Press and Less Than Three Press.