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The Quarry

The cliffs rose fifty feet above the clear water,

and nestled at the bottom, fifty feet below,

were the caverns of sunken school buses.

Inside the hull the high school girls peeled off their underwear,

floating balloons of their sex, hair between their legs

like rapid-coils of a bomb in the current.

From the cliffs, the boys leapt into the sky, their voices ricocheted

and clapped against the stone in a clatter of wingbeats,

frenzied flight as they fell, or were they flying?

Those boys, half-naked

in the sunlight were like gods, are like gods now. I watch them at this distance,

their feints and side-steps

and hooks as they sparred, bare feet on the warm rock.

Some of them would still want to fuck,

but what I liked is how they seemed to me oblivious to their sex

in a way that girls weren’t allowed to be. The boys were bodies

of pure delight, a buzzing heat in the fiber and chord

of their nerves that I was barred from. No dichotomy in them,

more than lust, an inhabitation that is perfectly at home

in its leap and thrust.

At fifteen I wanted to be them. I want to be them now.

The boy of myself, leaping over the edge.

I watch them plunge down

and then rise like a bullet,

breaking back up into air, breathless as methamphetamine,

a rush of wind in the magnolias, in the locusts,

racines of white flowers and fragrance, the boys, the boys

swinging like a pendulum in the blooms

back to the beginning, the source

of abandonment, their laughing, flung joy.

Stepping into the boyhood of my girlhood

a double barreled shotgun of myself, and shot.

I said I could stiffen you in two seconds

and he said, Stiffen this.

from ThrustFind it in the library

Copyright © Persea Books 2017
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Persea Books.

Published in Heather Derr-Smith Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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