Sage Curtis is a Bay Area writer fascinated by the way cities grit and women move. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Main Street Rag, burntdistrict, Yes Poetry, The Fem Lit, Vagabonds City and more. Find her here: sagedaniellecurtis.wordpress.com
A Girl and her knife
Like swimming in a pool during a lightning storm
the humidity cracking overhead
I feel it still rolling the salt of it
over my tongue.
Dare me to use the knife, to pull it
from the thin sleeve tucked
into the band of my bra.
Don’t you know yet,
this is for my safety, not yours?
If I was a bird, I’d be red & yellow & orange
If I was a flower, I’d be Bird of Paradise
all spiked and open-mouthed.
This is to say,
dare me to open up and show you
the explosions of neon coating
muscles I don’t even feel
anymore, but don’t dare me
to poison you. Will power is not my strong suit.
I like the sound of the blade sliding
against the leather too much,
the risk of electricity pulsing
through the water
So go ahead, call me baby—
& I’ll tell you about baby
rattle snakes & how they bite
full of uncontrollable venom.
Portrait at 27
1. Crossing a baseball field behind my middle school, I learned the term jailbait from the men repainting the diamond
2. The time I had to take a shower after sucking a dick I thought I wanted to suck
3. The time I knew I didn’t want to, but did anyway
4. Him saying don’t tell anyone about this
5. The entire baseball team knowing, even though I didn’t tell a soul
6. The time I loved a boy & the first time I sucked his dick, I was actually saying goodbye
7. $2 of change falling out of my bra, getting undressed for a shower, and feeling like I’m still being watched
8. The I flashed a boy for his “birthday present”
9. This is how I saw my body in a full-length mirror, too full for a girl my age
10. Age by now: 14
11. This is how I learned to use my body & was paid out: a free subway cookie, a movie ticket, a dinner, backstage and on stage at a music festival, a drink on Fridays, , , , , , , ,
12. This is how I learned to love my body
13. Learn to love bodies that look like mine—all tits, all ass, and then after notice they eyes
14. A catcall out a truck window while I run
15. A catcall out a sedan window while I run
16. A catcall out a suburban window while I run
17. I learn how to pray to a god I don’t believe in that they won’t pull to the curb and grab for me
18. More than once they have
19. A boy reaching out of the darkness during the 2 am bar exodus, looping his thumbs into the waist of my white jeans & I wonder briefly about getting away
20. The boy who has the patience to love me barked at someone staring the other day
21. A boy sits down on a couch at a party & asks me all about me. I make sure to use the word ‘boyfriend’ until he hears me
22. When I write my body, I write about loving it
23. When I write my body, I write about tits
24. When I write my body, I try to live outside of it, see it stretched and laid flat, the way you might see it from above me
25. I learned the term cheerleader thick from a boy I loved & suddenly my body folded from the inside out, wanting so bad to shed its thighs
26. How does a body survive all this?
27. Get up, get dressed in what I fucking want to wear, stare back at people who stare or eye me up and down, use my eyes like daggers, write about spit & knives