A second try

A few months ago, I submitted an essay to an online magazine I liked. The two editors accepted it, but they wanted to make drastic cuts to the essay. Their edits helped me understand some of the issues with the essay, but I still decided to pull it.

I didn't give up, though: I sent in this poem, which they accepted. Here it is, from Two Cities Review's latest issue (Issue #6).


I had just turned 21 when a boy from English class said
how about a motorcycle ride.
In the back of the room, he always slumped
down into his chair, 
stretched out his legs, black boots
scuffing tiles where his heels dragged.
His hair, straight and red, fell in his eyes.

On the bike, my bare arms wrapped around his chest
as if it were an accordion I would never play
again. Warm wind of June swooped across
our skin, played in our hair, lilted over close roads.

We threw off our helmets at the reservoir.
Brown water, still and cloudy, did not give away
who we were. We spoke of poetry and lyrical
lines we thought we could never write.

On the ride back, the sun left us alone
and it streaked orange
over the last white of sky.

I held tight, squeezing him closer,
my fingers digging into the tiniest threads
of his light and whipping shirt. Did I mention 

my boyfriend had left town
the day before? 

My roommates had wondered
where I was, becoming frantic,
like radio static,
in my absence.

They buzzed around me when I clicked
the door open. It was dark out
and useless
to protest I had done nothing
wrong. My hair smelled of summer wind—
notes of grass and hints of mint— 
and the lines of his shirt
had creased my face
like song across a page.