Everyone’s a serious seventeen,
and so, one night, we married in the woods —
though having to make curfew spoiled the mood.
You wore, of course, a kind of smock.
I was bright as a jester in metres
of daffodil gauze, my metals
dyeing my skin. We had, we knew, it all:
the chalices, the incense, the Lovers’ Tarot deck —
and, nearby, the baptizing rush of river. The air smells
like the mulch of primeval concupiscence! I cried,
and what could you do but agree?
Ants travelled patiently under our raiment;
the sex was athletic and wise …
and then we touched foreheads
with a new strain of sorrowful dignity,
for although we were rural,
we were never deep enough in to mistake
the humming of wires overhead.
THE SWORD DANCE
There were so many things I hated, at seven:
group activities, talking, children
younger than me,
and how Meghan, my dance teacher,
loved the other kid despite
drooling, tripping, kicking the meter sticks
we crossed in an X
to practice the Sword Dance —
(which used to be done only after the enemy died) —
and I watched Meghan’s throat spend the whole hour heating
the metal necklace she wore.
I smiled as hard as I had been taught,
though I couldn’t stand seeing
her satiny arms around that dirty eater,
his nose close
to the strawberry birthmark on her cheek
that she touched whether happy or sad.
Each night I lay in bed
punching my stomach, hoping this practice might mean
that next time, Meghan and I
would be alone. But every week
there he was,
rat-tailed and panting,
and every week I tied
my black leather laces so tight up my calves
the Xs remain.
I wanted to jump so high that I’d spend
an hour at least only falling,
and hit every planet on my way to the concrete floor.
I wanted to see him walked
up the basement stairs,
through the warm,
given an apple
the sliding glass doors to the porch,
then dragged to the wood shed and strangled.
MY SISTER AND I, WE KNOW WE ARE FILTH
My sister and I, we know we are filth, so we proceed with great caution
when we enter the world that was saved for us.
Unlocking our mother’s door, prying open her chest,
plunging our hands in the powder and silk —
we know we could be in her bedroom for years,
and yet we forgot to pack meat for our journey.
Orchids and lilies pattern her walls. When we tire of smelling
our own bodies, we spray her perfume in the air
and it rises in a sparkling font, lingers, then falls. Now,
I rip a velvet headband with my teeth. I spit
the sequins at my sister. Now, she is using our mother’s tweezers
to pluck black hairs from beneath her navel,
while I turn my face to the vaulted ceiling
and hold my breath till the sparks come.
We know we are in this up to our waists. But still we’re ashamed
to want what we cannot name. My sister’s trailing her tongue
across our mother’s mirror, and I am imagining this unnameable something
passing swiftly out of her, as I want it passing swiftly out of me —
but we both know the dark will come on
like someone pushing their thumbs into our eyes —
our mother will find us here and stride towards us
arms and coat open to show she means no harm —
Sara Peters was born in Antigonish, Nova Scotia and was a 2010—2012 Stegner fellow at Stanford. Her first book, 1996, will be published in April by Anansi.