An Ode to the Meadows

Photo by Aimy Paulsen

By Aimy Paulsen

I’VE COME TO LOVE THE HEAT THAT SKIN-SCORCHING BLISTERING HEAT BECAUSE WHAT IS BEING FROM HERE IF NOT FOR THOSE

POST-5th GRADE SUMMER DAYS WITH MY BEST FRIEND TAKING OUR SCOOTERS ‘ROUND THE CUL-DE-SAC GETTING FLIP-FLOP TANS THROWING ROCKS IN THE NEIGHBOR’S SWIMMING POOL BECAUSE PRETEEN LIFE DIDN’T PRESENT ANYTHING BETTER FOR A COUPLE OF HEAT-INDUCED ASSHOLES WHO JUST GOT TRAINING BRAS AND DEVELOPED A BURGEONING SUBCONSCIOUS FEAR OF CLIMATE CHANGE AND THOSE

BITTERSWEET RIDES ON THE WAY TO THE MOVIES IN MY FRIEND’S OLDER SISTER’S CAR WHOSE A/C BROKE SIX MONTHS AGO AND ALL WE COULD DO WAS SIT THIGH-TO-SWEATY-THIGH WISHING HER SISTER WOULD DRIVE A LITTLE FASTER TO WELCOME IN A COLDER DRAFT FROM THE HALF-OPEN UNTINTED WINDOWS AND FEELING A LITTLE RESENTFUL BUT WHAT’S 20 MINUTES OF SUFFERING AND THOSE

LONG ARDUOUS WALKS IN 110° HEAT FROM THE LIBRARY BACK HOME AND 30-YEAR-OLD MEN TALKING TO ME WHILE MY HORRIFIED TEENAGED FACE IS TOMATO RED NOT FROM BLUSHING BUT FROM ANGER AND EMBARASSMENT AND SUNBURN AND MY BOOKS BECOMING DAMP WITH ELBOW SWEAT THINKING OH GOD! I WANT TO SHRINK INTO NOTHINGNESS AND OH GOD! I WANT TO EXPAND INTO EVERYTHING AND NOW

I GOT A CAR WITH AN ICE-COLD A/C AND I WEAR ADULT BRAS SO I FORGOT WHO I WAS SINCE I SWALLOWED SO MUCH OF WHAT I DESPISED THAT IT BECAME A PART OF ME SO I BAKE IN THE SUN UNTIL I COMBUST TO FEEL SOMETHING, ANYTHING, A BIT OF PAIN A BIT OF RECONNECTING TO MY ROOTS FROM THAT SKIN-SCORCHING BLISTERING HEAT ‘CAUSE I NEED MY ARMS TO PEEL OFF TO REMEMBER WHO I AM

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