I. The girls of summer

We were the girls of summer;

We were there to salute school goodbye even though our cotton socks were sweated through to the skin and our calves itched to be free of their constraints;

We spent our mornings running through sprinklers and watching the lawns perk up except for a few lumpy girl-shaped patches matted down from our drowsy carelessness;

We performed water acrobatics with the Amazing Hydrogen Dioxide Brothers who sprung into the air from plastic-spoon launching pads and then down into our eager waiting mouths;

We hogged the swings and ignored the scowling parents of bawling toddlers, because we were the queens of the playground and no huffy lesser nobles would usurp our reign;

We cooled down from mid-afternoon exertions by drowning ourselves in blood (in ice [in sugar]), sickly sweet tomato icicles that we attacked because we were young, hungry cannibals;

We listened for the dusk fairies, lither and prettier than we were, with tulle wings and crushed marble hearts, because we wanted to join them and learn the delicacy we knew we were born with (but had yet to find);

(We lamented when we couldn't find them);

We avoided the boys because they were blatant denials of our preoccupation with the ethereal - the rainbow pyrotechnics that sustained us, the daylilies we tried to emulate, the crumbly dispassionate profiles we saw in the bathroom mirror;

We snuck onto the city hall back lawn to roll down the succulent hills that occupied our daydreams, and afterward we felt only the slightest hint of guilt for the slaughter of a few poppies;

We felt, on the other hand, that daisies were fair game because they were (like us,) so scrawny, trying vainly to grow up faster;

We shrugged off our skirted chains and patent leather prisons in favor of calluses on our soles and secondhand dungarees because we could be stealthier this way and not worry about gingham patterns unraveling distressingly at the barest touch of twine;

We named and loved the stars, the ancient winking babies that haunted the night sky with their promises of something better, something more to come;

We didn't understand when the boys wanted us to share their mud holes and grass stains and worm segments;

We just wanted to hold jungle canopy tea parties that would separate us from everything on the ground, all the other people that stuffed liver-spotted thighs into droopy pantyhose every morning and yelled themselves hoarse trying to get a taxi;

We made up our own rain dances because nothing was more rewarding than speaking directly to the dead gods of spring - it meant we were indeed special;

We snuggled under the treetop tearoom when the rain came, and woke up hours later to find the world transformed and ourselves a bit more grown up than we were before;

We perfumed ourselves with glucose - everything would be sticky and cherry-flavored, our hands (our hair [our eyelids]);

We fought with the bravest of spirits against curfews and stomach bugs, sometimes with merciful results but sometimes to no avail;

We mourned the passage of time with one last huddle of scraped knees and wondering eyes, plotting one last triumph of youth;

We found friendship in the cutthroat lemonade business and shook hands bravely when the rivalry emerged with more silver quarters at the end of the day;

We lusted for just one more hour of daylight but could not halt time despite our combined efforts;

We would rather be upside-down and subject to the laws of gravity than deny our heads that little rush of blood;

We thought nothing of love because we didn't understand heartbreak;

We spent strange nights in white-washed cells hearing the clock's syncopated ticks eclipsing the beating of our hearts;

We knew we would lose eventually, but for two scorching months we didn't care;

We were the only living creatures in a summer of sluggish death;

We buried our legacy underneath sweaters and hid them in glass bracelet charms;

We were the girls of summer and we never forgot.