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The First Time They Want You

You are at a funeral the first time a man tells you youíve grown into
a fine young woman. Or does he say budding? The man is old.
He is probably related to you, but who knows, all old men look the same.
At dinner in the hotel the meat looks like tongues and tastes like grass,
tastes like braces in someone elseís mouth. It has been said recently, budding,
and you canít stop thinking of the word, of what might grow from it and from
you, of how last time the family was together like this
you sat under the table with your cousins and ate and ate
and now you want to go outside and taste the night air,
you want to drink what your mother is drinking.
You touch the lamb on your plate Ė press a finger in
to watch the blood snake into your nail. You are laying on hands,
you will think the animal back to life, imagine it coming together at the table,
a surprised sheep wet from rebirth, wool matted. In the hotel room
you hang out of the window smoking, and your shoulders are cold
above your dress. You are so full of spit and blood and it is moving so fast
and you wonder about if this thing had been open casket,
if you had placed a hand over your grandmotherís face and let it all rush
to your palms. You felt the men follow you like they follow food,
their eyes yellow and hungry. They want to open dark mouths and take you in,
want to stop your photosynthesis, but you have turned your face to the sky,
to all the stars visible out here in the country. You blow smoke through chapped lips.
You know there are more stars than you can count; you know the longer you look
the more you will see. You wonder why you decided to look up.
You wonder why you would ever look away.

Lotte Mitchell Reford

(issue 33)