I’m fourteen and the smell of singed hair
circles me like the halo of a pre-Renaissance
Madonna. Loss already on my face.
A summer crush holds out his fingers
for the other boys to smell. The next day
I choose a cute outfit: shorts with tiny
repeating flowers. I braid my hair
into a wreath of juniper and dandelion.
There’s an iteration of myself with gills
and fins who my twin brother knew
as well as he knew himself, then
there’s me with petals on my thighs
and in my hair, flowers even inside.
The untrained eye can mistake yarrow
for flower or blue-eyed grass for weed.
Facing the mirror, irises grow wide
across the field of myself. They’re so good
at making use of holes. I want to balance
pitchers of seawater on my head. I want
to be more like my eyes. I carry holes
and purses and a picture of me, age six,
Easter bonnet tied under my chin, shins
grazed by bluebells, a steeple I can hear
beyond the frame. An image I’ve only held
in another’s retelling. The scentless
girl I was has a fragrance I recognize
in the mirror. The girl and I bring
our rose-perfumed wrists to the flesh
below the ears. Flesh that will one day be eaten
but not consumed. What is covered now by cloth
and petals will be taken wholly. A tongue,
feeling like many, will coax woman out of us.