Leslie Contreras Schwartz


Childhood was a grasshopper that jumped
Into my palm. Day and night braided into my hair
That grew past my waist. Years away from bleeding
In my grandmother’s bathroom, I bit into a sugar cookie.
My baby teeth tumbled out. I remember my grandmother
Not in body or face, but as the blood-tinged bite mark on that
Pink sugar cookie. What an ugly thing you are now, she’d said.
Making the hollow in my mouth an unpretty hole.

My mouth held open into an unpretty hole. I took my childhood
Like a grasshopper in my palm, plucked each leg and wing gently. I left
My grandmother’s lawn, her dirt sidewalk, littered with legless green bodies,
Now my kin, that could not move or fly.

My kin that could not move or fly, but hungry
For anything that was not loneliness. A hunger
that multiplied under any boy’s gaze. I needed
To become solidified, taken from a liquid state. He found me like that,
Decorated with makeup like camouflage, in a small skirt. He took it
As an indication. I was not ready. I’d just turned 15. I thought the heavy boots
I wore could ground me, the lashes and red lips. Both were left in a bag 

With the rest of my stuff, on the side of a road. He took some girl in the car that was me.

Also, some girl in the car, that was me.  He picked me up on the side of the road down
From my parents’ house and I never came back. I put myself on a shelf there—my old girl’s room—
For safe-keeping, a body I could borrow later. The memory of myself was a grasshopper
That jumped into my palm. Day and night braided into my hair, unnoticed in body or face,
Even with the blood-tinged bite mark I wore, his own pink sugar cookie. What an ugly
Thing you are now, I’d say in the mirror; my mouth an unpretty hole he took as kin
Into which he could move in and fly. I was not ready. In my mind, I’d just turned 15. I fall asleep
Growling, hungry, no gaze on me now.  

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