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by Sara Kaplan-Cunningham

On the phone with my sister this morning, 

She tells me: most people fall in love


With the first person they touch. The first one

To touch them back.


My hamstrings ache from bending over,

Ripping excess grass from the earth. 


The first man I touched liked it

When I bent over. Sometimes I felt him


And thought he could be a machine, the predictability

Of his hands. I believe my father


Is a good man. What a thing

To be. Every night, I walk the dog 


Down the street & my father follows

Me, ducks behind wind-blown ferns


And tree branches cracked like wishbones. 

I pretend I don’t see him, for him. 


When I got my first tattoo, the blade sawed

Into my bicep, buried the black ink like a seed


Until a leaf blossomed, red and sticky with blood

Like sap. My old lover will never see this new body


Of mine. Skin I reimagined. 


This is not the first time I’ve allowed someone to carve into me,

Fit me into a slot after shaving me down. 


I still think about the first person who touched me.

I walk the dog every day. 

About the Author

Sara Kaplan-Cunningham grew up outside Boston, Massachusetts and currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia studying English and Creative Writing at Emory University. Her poetry is forthcoming in The Sea Letter.

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