Oakledge, VT

Some places we are meant to be alone,

like at edges. There's the one near the lake,

which used to be an ocean.

I too am no longer many things I once was.

Where rocks crust with dried toe prints –

little hints of flesh engraved like posthumous trophies –

and copper fish hit the banks in licks of hurt.

Close by, an empty crow's nest beats heavy and alive

like a whole heart sliced up and portioned for a party.

Its birch twigs and switch-grass woven together recalling

the back of the bus, braiding each other's hair before ball games.

Nothing callouses the hands like girl love

or trying to be brave like the other kids

with their broken-in baseball gloves and ice cream lips.

I like to imagine the nest filled with eggs like cue balls.

A garden snake hunted here a few years back,

though I was never there to see it, I'm only guessing.

Evidence: the cracks where water trickles in

like scars left from a stick-and-poke tattoo. When I was twelve,

I raced the boys and scraped my left cheekbone on the asphalt trying to win,

a shining patch of white exposed like sanded-down pearls.

Is it bravery or relish of pain – this constant thrust into edges

until I leave everything branded a target for good.

I can't help the skin I'm in.

Alix Wood was raised by two mothers on Anna Maria Island, Florida. At the University of Vermont, she was the editor-in-chief of Vantage Point, the school's literary and art magazine. She has been published in Vantage Point and will be published in SWWIM. Her work frequently centers around the body, sexuality, trauma, family relationships, mental illness, and the environment. Alix currently lives in Vermont.