Age-Defying Clarifier

Teenage me counted the seconds
between passing periods because
it kept me from being attacked.
Now I count out of habit, one
Mississippi two Mississippi
,
even though this concrete
won’t call me a dyke, these
trees are sawn down before
they can tell me to get a life.
You can be twenty-four forever
if you use enough of the right
moisturizer.
                        And so I am,
until one day I cut off all
my hair and he says it makes me
look older. I wonder if he really
means it. I wonder if he said it
to get a reaction out of me
that wasn’t bored indifference.
I brush the stray bangs I see
in the mirror, gray strands
collecting on the sink basin
like firewood, my life ready
to burn at a moment’s notice.

Josette Torres received her MFA in Creative Writing from Virginia Tech in 2010. She also holds a BA in English and Creative Writing from Purdue University. Her work has appeared in The New Verse News, SLAM: Silhouette Literary and Art Magazine, Eunoia Review, and is forthcoming in Ayris. She is the Writer in Residence at The Lyric Theatre in Blacksburg, Virginia.

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