summer swoons, bats
her lashes at the wind, and
we skip rocks on the sidewalk, watch them melt
like the plastic chairs on our porches. school’s out
so we skim magazines and pretend like we are somebodies.
shoes off, eyes curdled, hair spilling out the
windows, waterfall in wasteland. wake up
drunk in a field, knowing we will drive ourselves
home. when we kissed under the bridge,
your eyes were wildfires. you said you’d fly
away and I remembered the time
my dad took me hunting. we gunned down
a woodcock, its wings splayed like american flag,
star-spangled neck twisted eyes blind.
and so we roll out the days
the way my ma rolls out dough,
thick and tasteless. because I know
the day you dress for the bright lights and
drive your pickup over the bridge,
you won’t come home. but for now we
sip cola at the gas station, fist cash like it’ll
knot in a drain if we let
go, feel how much we aren’t
worth. let summer
fly us down the block.

Nikita Bhardwaj is a high school senior from New Jersey. She is an Iowa Young Writers’ Studio student whose work has been recognized by NCTE, the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, the Pulitzer Center, and others. She enjoys volleyball and long walks in beautiful places.

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