the spaces between knuckles and thighs By Kristine Ma

the spaces between knuckles and thighs

it’s summer and you’re bored so you suggest we skinny dip in the neighbor’s pool.
you jump the fence like you’ve done it a million times, and perhaps you have,
and i swing myself over but my hair snags on the rotting wood fence.
you motion impatiently so i crimson and tug myself free.
leaves long, half-dyed strands streaming like spider banners in the july wind.
the pool sign says keep out but you’ve been barging into places you shouldn’t have
been since we were kids and so you sweep everything off in one motion and dive in.
suddenly, i feel as dizzy as when you snuck us into your mother’s wine cabinet when you were ten.
you tug at the hem of my sleeve with waterlogged fingers, so i pull it off to reveal another layer.
then another. then another, like a russian doll, until i’m left
with skirt and tights pooled around my feet and shivering in lingerie.
you ask me how i survive in this heat, and i feel goosebumps inching up my arms.
i sweep my hair to the front, shiver again when the breeze hits the exposed nape of my neck.
cover myself with my hands as i inch first the lace socks, then the shoes
down my heels and test the waters.
you stare at my naked collarbone until i submerge myself.
your hands work beneath the water,
spinning a tale, until i feel your fingertips brush against my stomach.
it’s no time to be thinking about it surrounded by chlorine and half-dead dragonflies,
but i want something more and i’m not really sure what it is,
because i want to always count my blessings and you give me everything.
pressed up against the brick school wall when everyone’s gone, behind the old pizzeria.
throats exposed and vulnerable and hands around wrists and lips and breath
so glorious and addicting others just might call it religion.
sometimes the moon brings high tides and you kiss me so hard on the beach,
we leave imprints in the sand.
what else is there to want?
perhaps to hold hands; maybe a head on a shoulder—
but how embarrassingly juvenile.

By Kristine Ma


Kristine Ma is an Asian-American writer and high school junior hailing from Michigan. She received three national gold medals and several other recognitions from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Additionally, her poetry has been recognized by the Young Poets Network and appears in The Hunger and Bridge: The Bluffton University Literary Journal, among others. When she isn’t writing, she can be found playing piano and oboe, watching anime, and dreaming.

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