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notes on how to love a boy :: lauren berry

by on November 10, 2015

My mother left handwritten notes
on her sweet gum trees to warn boys
who cut through our backyard.

Wasp Nets. Do Not Enter.
With Scotch tape and spelling error, my mother
told the bad boys of the neighborhood not

to come near me. This was after I,
indolent in a rusted lawn chair, did nothing

when a blond boy flailed, screamed,
swelled down the steps of our pool
with lady-wasps swarming his arms.

Mother’s phone calls were followed
by the red yawns of ambulance lights,
followed by the air-conditioned waiting
and the hospital bills she now owed the boy’s father.

Mother cried over her practiced signature,
struggled to understand her handwriting, the fine
print. Those next few days I did not dare

the backyard, but every chance I got I flitted
into the pool and hid myself
under water. Under wasp wings.

I wanted stingers instead of leg hair.
Instead of legs. I put my mouth to the screen door
and listened for hives. The wasp world

was one that loved boys
as wrong as I did. Why was it that our mission
was to make men less beautiful?

Red. Wrecked. Those insects rushed to his eyelids
without fear. Of all the women
in the world, I find my sisters here.

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