IN PROTECTION OF TWELVE YEAR OLD GIRLS
Let’s mold moats below all their collarbones,
forge their untarnished skin with fairytales.
Our hands are always clutching at that clearing
of our bodies anyway. So we’ll scoop skin and root
to make islands of their necks and thoughts. We’ll harness
their pulses—the throb that comes the first time
an earlobe is sealed into the envelope of a mouth,
the beating wingspan of an owl under-chest—
that will become the surge of water that licks up their banks
and splashes over in pools of sweat on the indents
of all their see-through ribs. We’ll clasp a drawbridge
at their throats to keep out the man hands, to keep the scruff
scratch off their chins, to keep the lies dipped in butterscotch
schnapps from staying too long in the bedrooms of their brains.
Because maybe girls belong in castles in stone dresses.
Why was it always the boys clad in armor and the girls trailing
their fingertips over moss and fern and the bellies of caterpillars
and their own bellies sucking in under the touch of twigs.
Let’s keep them in turrets, train them in the pierce of arrows,
make enemies of head and heart.
THE MIDDLE DARK
Insulation like uterine walls filled the attic at fifteen Irving Rd Natick Mass oh one seven six oh. It
spanned the length of our slab ranch and for eighteen years I refused to walk hunched under eaves from
one end to the other. The middle dark. Like the deep end at the Y. The lights-off hallway between their
king bed and our twin bunks. The ceilings at night if you peeled off all my meticulously placed glow-in-
the-dark stars. Five oh eight, six five three, nine two three oh. At least four nights a week my dreams are
tethered to that gray house with blue window boxes. I can’t seem to climb past the gypsy moth tree
house, the silver ladder to the porch roof—picking shingles then cherry tomatoes on the patio. Can’t seem
to escape that backyard bordered in lilac bushes and forsythia forts; I never fly higher then the tops of the
oak trees. My morning mouth tastes like buried acorns, my head the rope swing on the hill tied to branch
to bark to root and jumping off just pulls me back down to moss stained knees.
Leah Osowski is currently pursuing an MFA in poetry at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington.