We went to the docks with rounded cheeks, the kind young girls
have before they meet the cheekbones of boys. And milkshakes never
tasted as good as they did that summer. Vanilla and chocolate were forbidden
sweets, hidden underneath the old maple trees. We counted the small boats
with bloated old men, wobbling and burping, slurping and churning,
trying to pick whatever good fish were left in that river.
We ate frosting on spoons, we ate fries dipped in ice cream with our
thin straps falling off our shoulders and our lips glossed over with strawberry cream.
The cars honked, and we walked through the water mirages of city streets,
learning how to be a woman from the bus stop advertisements.
The clapping of our sandals and the swaying of our hips were the church bells
of city boys who slathered their lips with mountain dew syrup and mint chew,
and it was the summer of heavy flavors, like his lips underneath a blanket
that smelled like cigarette smoke and basement mildew.
City girls are born from city walls, and we are survivors of the vicious eyes
of city boys who are born from the dirt. I can see why girls with cement in their blood
are feared; we learn to dominate our surroundings before they dominate us,
and we do it with the straws barely grazing our lips, looking like treats,
our nails the color of hard candies and our cheeks the color of unwrapped bubblegum.