for Debbie Benson
Others have their own fires. Ours started small,
an accident with a cause: lens of ground glass, fire ants,
paper from a pack of cigarettes.
We ran into the woods to wait out what would happen
and, while we were not what we wanted,
we were what we were.
Clutched together, our breathing
became a third person, all smiles, without much English.
Puckers on both knees, sap in the scabs, tarry, sweet.
What we tasted: red hots and cut grass,
and you had a doll that wet,
which you left there, and another with a crank for growing hair.
Let x equal kiss,
because when we changed we changed the language.
The sun was not harmless. It was no egg in the air.
We strung up our clothes in the virgin forest
and sang I’m your pusher. For virgin, read
where the small trees fail. We started there.
We caught. And after? We smoked. And after that? We smoked.
Shannon Holman, New York, 2001