A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z #

Olivia Gatwood

"Gamble"

some girls were seasoned in sex,
visibly bored when the conversation
lingered around foreplay but never
nosedived beyond it. some girls
had done it, but with their boyfriends
who were still boys & still loved them
which made it not count.

it didn’t matter if you were a virgin
or not, it mattered how you used it,
like currency, a sack of nickels
on the bar top. it was before any of us
believed we were good at anything
so we became good at our bodies,
at talking about them like we were
greyhound b*tches, lean & itching
to break through the race.

before either of us had sex,
jordan & i showed up to the skate park
in plaid skirts with no panties
& the boys took turns sticking
their faces underneath, like small
children lining up behind a telescope,
giddy for a suddenly reachable universe.

jordan brought a disposable camera
& the boys snapped photos of their skirt-submerged
heads, us with our hands over our mouths
like newborn marilyns, c*ck-kneed & flustered.

who knows what we got from it, maybe a loosie
or a ride or the chance to finish a sentence
& then took the camera to the pharmacy on 4th street,
where the middle-aged woman printed each glossy
still & we paid in nickels & she didn’t ask any questions

& we hovered over them, our chests hot and skittish
laying the best ones out like tarot cards promising
a good future. but soon we grew bored of our own faces,
grew out of our old bodies & threw the photos away.

my father found them in the trash that week
& left them on the kitchen table for me to find.
they looked foreign against my mother’s tablecloth,
& i remember questioning if they were even me.

he pondered over them like a poker deck,
selected one, carefully, of me & a headless boy, let it dangle
between his thumb & forefinger, waited a moment
for me to drink it in, to look myself in the eye,
& then asked who i was.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z #


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