Sixth grade, you pack your favorite
bathing suit. Before it tastes chlorine,
womanhood arrives, dotting
your thighs with thick molasses.
The air is sticky with droplets,
heavy with your own pride.
You sit poolside, with a pod
of hushed girls, pondering
puddles and pads and cotton poles.
The cups will come later.
Today, in the bathroom,
you overhear C teach H
how to stuff herself full,
and realize you fear
the curves of your own body.
G enters the water anyway,
fearless. And you gag
in disgust and envy. The boys
splash around for hours,
inviting you in, oblivious.
And who knows but that your hands
have calcified, yellowed with wisdom,
wrinkled in water, and flaked polish,
for the yeast scenting your fingertips,
and the water bottles in your trunk,
and the key loose in your palm, and
the bag of fabric (splitting at its seams),
and the band-aids in your purse, and
this letter in its plain envelope. For the
neighbor, still stinging from stitches.
For the thirsty stranger by the red light.
For the college student without holiday
plans. For the young mom in dangling
threads. For your daughter hunched over
the toilet. For the least of these we forget
but still exist. For such a time as this.
The oldest daughter has
her mother’s hands, soft
as she braids strands:
fig leaves into dresses
in the morning, blankets
for loved ones at night.
She has her father’s tongue,
tasting shapes into being.
With sour bites turns seeds
into bouquets of baby breath.
She builds an altar
with her godly hands,
brown as the ground she tills,
planting roots in loose dirt.
She has her mother’s eyes.
She’s the apple attached
to the tree’s hip. She sees
a more fertile garden.
She takes her love’s hands,
once silken soft. Coats them
with sweat and dust. They cleave
and blush. Dig and trust.
All she knows is this; and somehow
this is more than enough.
Alixa Brobbey spent portions of her childhood in The Netherlands and Ghana. She has a BA in English from Brigham Young University, where she won the Ethel Lowry Handley Poetry Prize in 2020. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in The Blue Marble Review, Segullah, Inscape, The Albion Review, The Susquehanna Review, The Palouse Review, Exponent II, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, and others. She is currently a law student at Brigham Young University.