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Eighth Grade

ISSUE:  Winter 2000
The year Chris and Matt died on the tracks
I cut my hair short and grew it long again,
Mandi stopped talking to me three times,
the Challenger blew up. The only year of my life

when I brushed blue powder over my eyelids
and underlined my eyes in black, the year
of spinning bottles to see who would kiss
with lips and who with tongues,

the year they built the planetarium
and every day, two o’clock meant the descent
to a world of swirling darkness where we leaned back
to let galaxies haze our eyes. I never thought the sky

could really look like that, black and full
of flickering life. That year, diesels cranked
through my sleep, peppering it with ashes
and shooting stars. I kept waking up

wanting to tell somebody—you can’t lie down
on the tracks and expect to live. That didn’t stop
the broken reel from replaying the scene I imagined:
Chris and Matt rising as the train comes,

arms and legs spread in a big X …
then the impact against their open palms
scatters their paired lives across a universe
that suddenly has unfolded its bare light.


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