Preening petals—we grew into two dahlias curling their eyelashes or young women or whatever they called us. We used shadow and mascara to scare away the blue. We powdered cherry blossoms onto our cheeks, swept sweet pollen across our bones. I stamped red onto both our lips with the careful arc of my hand. Lips into chrysanthemums, pencils spun over FaceTime at midnight, bluebells spoken softly. Both our brains whir through the XYZ Affair and the Alien and Sedition Acts and vectors and matrices and heartbreaks. We devour two pints of Ben and Jerry's with two spoons and all ten things I hated about him and a whole pumpkin pie in the WinCo parking lot, whipped cream and trilliums sprayed across the leather seats. We met in the locker room in the basement of the Y. I clutched my cap and goggles, shivered in my suit. You smiled like lilacs, like cold milk soothing my throat. Floating, floating, we watched the same black line at the bottom of the pool. Honesty is chlorine, and easily, fluidly, I let go of what I gripped in a trembling lip. A glacier calved—our mosaic flourished past the depths we’ve known so far.
Avery Gendler attends Interlochen Arts Academy; Gendler tied for second place in the Charles Crupi Memorial Poetry Contest for Michigan High School students. For more information on the contest, please visit the Albion College English Department website.