“What Are You Thinking About?” He Asks Me. And I Say I’m Thinking About The Tangles In My Hair.

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It’s the end of summer. Can you feel it?

We are so anxious for it to start but come the end of August we’re ready for it to leave. It’s like a houseguest who stayed too long and clogged up all the rooms with its sweaty, too-familiar smell. It’s like a lover who wants too much, always, who won’t get out of your bed, who keeps pulling you back and planting sticky kisses on your neck. We wait for the cool and crisp of fall dreaming about sweaters and fires, forgetting that it’s just a pretty precursor to winter.

Summer ends, we pack it up in a box and shove it away back behind coats in the closet.

I clean my apartment in a frenzy, rolling up old rugs, unrolling new ones. I stash things in drawers. I shove things in closets. I hide what doesn’t match, what doesn’t blend with the girl I am right now. Open the windows and send her right out.

I pack it all away, tossing bikinis and crop tops and cutoffs and beachy blankets. I do not have use for them right now. Cover it up, I think, cover up with leggings and sweaters and scarves and coats, layer yourself away.

“What are you thinking about?” he asks me. And I say I’m thinking about the tangles in my hair, the lights on across the street showing me the neighbor’s bad furniture, the proliferation of polyester in the world of online shopping. I do not say what I am really thinking; the lump in my throat won’t let me talk.

I do not tell him that I can feel my hips spreading, that I spend long, tiresome minutes in front of the mirror staring at the cellulite over my knees, behind my thighs, that a dress in a Topshop has the power to ruin my whole week even though it’s only $50 and what does it know? I do not tell him that each time I peel the flesh of my limbs apart from one another that old, greedy friend of my teenage years starts to claw her way out again. “I do not want my mother’s body,” she says. I beat her back sometimes, reminding myself of the men who watch the swish of my hips as I walk, the dresses that cling and mold to my form, the miles my body can go, go, go. This diversion works occasionally, though my mind always drifts to a little sculpted arm and skinny legs banging around in boots. I do not tell him I wish I could undrink those glasses of beer, un-eat those delicious little fried things, undo it all. I do not tell him I sometimes hate the curves, the comfortable fleshiness.

I do not tell him that I feel uncomfortable in my own body, trapped by the breasts and hips and stomach and thighs. He blankets his body with mine. He wouldn’t understand.

I don’t say these things. I pour poems into his mouth instead, and he falls asleep while I sit in the living room, the cool wisp of fall air slipping through the windows. I have thrown all the clutter under the bed like a hundred thrift store monsters. I will throw these sad, resentful feelings there too and let them bury themselves under my laughter, feel it rumbling from above.

The summer isn’t over yet, you know.

We sit side by side, our shoulders warm and touching. We press our tattoos together. TC mark

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