Fifteen is before the wings come—no,
that’s wrong. At fifteen we’ve begun to feel
the nubs of bone pushing at the muscle, the skin
of our backs. These bones aren’t right. We itch
until the skin burns red. Beg our mothers for a salve—
anything to make it how it was.
Fifteen is feet wishing for grass, wearing shoes
that bind our long toes. Fifteen is how our eyes
seem darker in harsher lights, how we squint
and feel the prick of tears, and duck into our lockers
and hide with our books.
This is before anyone tells us anything.
Identities are secret and gym class is finished
with Bath and Body Works. Country Apple
is not so much a signature scent as it is a place
we remember being safe. A place that’s possible
to be safe again, if it turns out to be real.
When the wings come, we cry. We cry for ourselves,
mostly, but also for the others crumbled in the corners
of closets, telling their stories with dresses instead of words.
We fall out of our windows into grass and onto sidewalks.
We are fifteen and we have no time.
E. Kristin Anderson grew up in Westbrook, Maine and is a graduate of Connecticut College. She has a fancy diploma that says “B.A. in Classics,” which makes her sound smart but has not helped her get any jobs in Ancient Rome. Once upon a time she worked for The New Yorker magazine, but she soon packed her bags and moved to Texas. Currently living in Austin, Kristin is an online editor at Hunger Mountain and a contributing editor at Found Poetry Review. Kristin is the co-editor of the DearTeen Me anthology (Zest Books, 2012), based on the website of the same name. As a poet she has been published worldwide in many literary journals from the UK’s Fuselit, to Cordite in Australia to the US’ Post Road and the Cimarron Review. Recently she’s graced the pages of Asimov’s Science Fiction, and she has work forthcoming in teen magazine Cicada. Kristin is the author of two chapbooks of poetry: A Guide For The Practical Abductee (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2014) and A Jab of Deep Urgency (forthcoming, Finishing Line Press, 2014). She hand-wrote her first trunk book at sixteen. It was about the band Hanson and may or may not still be in a notebook at her parents’ house. She blogs at EKristinAnderson.com.