Photo by Caroline Harms / North By Northwestern

Vanilla buttercream frosting on plain white cake

Effortless assimilation

Into a clothesline of solid colored cardigans

Do your narrow offwhite sneakers fit in their 4x4 space,

Or is it just a clean-cut attempt at rebellion,

With no desperate disciples ripping their fishnets in pursuit

Heavy crepe cardstock

Uncaptioned acquiesced gratitude

For acknowledging the body they could have walked through

That glares in defense to keep the recommended six feet

Between her and a series of bad ideas

Her mother would never approve of

I’m almost 20,

Without the experience of tightroping a curb,

Falling through deeper puddles

Of pristine bathroom stalls

Why is everything so funny

After he spilled the inhibition out of you?

Wet neon plastic,

Mouths lined in Crayola permanent marker

I tested out of limits others break to discover themselves,

Now contemplating the jump from the tower

Before I cut my hair too short

Before it becomes too dangerous,

The inherent gold streaks

With a vibrancy of misplaced youth,

Any remaining brightness halfway spent

On fractured screens passing time

That would otherwise be a future

Why won’t my knees just give?

Sterling silver dye,

Steel rib cages edged in lace

Prod sharp edges into formless sketches,

Sliding fingers through belt loops,

Sandpaper skin on polished wood floors

Your hypotheticals made my realities cry

Because we both know what I could do

If I wanted the blue black smudges perpetually

To signify nothing but my educated delinquency,

A sudden premeditated deviation

From the unspoken plan,

Pouty lips and pretty eyes that don’t smile anymore

Puffing turmeric exhaust

Over all-American skylines

I get too reckless

With crystal bottles waiting downstairs,

Plates that need to be cleaned,

Rating the companionship of two pariahs -

What click will make the inevitable

Could forgetting my name by the morning

Make those stretchmarks sunken in thighs

Less egregious to pinching claws

That like to feast alone at night

I seriously doubt it

But it’s not like I’m going anywhere