then the summer I felt the smolder was our first on the mountain, in a copy of home— still white panes with black shutters, rotting underneath a splintered deck.
I smothered progesterone yams, a perfumed cream into my forearms daily a natural supplement to help with your period
Mama insisted, took my sex from a hidden pearl, tucked under daisy dresses & yanked up silk blouses, into kindling for my hips.
I had one slice of seventeen-- one week in late May, when Tennessee was green, I kissed three boys.
two were after margaritas in the cicada dusk. You, sober on a lush morning-- & I liked you the best.
the ice cream melted, & I collapsed inside my own shame. selling my childhood cherry oak table, leather couches, bunk bed,
books for scraps. the heat would simmer at my ankles, I’d bristle my shoulders, garage splayed open, taunting the searing sky
with pulsing insides. I got your first make out text, a tapestry of grey on a shiny Iphone, & I devoured it like gospel.
behind closed doors, on my knees, as something burst inside of me for the first time.
I remember your eyes, black like my first crush, Sasuke Uchiha, face hawkish, like Heathcliffe.
the morning of your eighteenth birthday we pirouetted around your carpet floor like cats with yarn in our jaws,
the carpet burn on my elbow I picked at, over, & over, that summer.
always returning to tender, pink that smarted in a delicious way.
You spent the rest of the summer behind a projector, popcorn best friend & a girlfriend I didn’t know existed, except in the figments
of Facebook gut punches. for years, I thought I was an oak, yellow pine on the parched cliff.
& when lightning cracked, it bolted. incinerating voltage, burning me alive, & leaving me to ash.
yet, in embers, I pulsed. I still sparked. I was the lightning, instead.
-- JoAnna Brooker is a graduate from the University of Tennessee, where she studied Journalism & English. She is currently a staff director for Sundress Academy for the Arts, & her work has been featured in Hash Journal, Menacing Hedge, & The Knoxville Mercury. She can be found on all social media platforms @cupofjoanna. In her spare time, she enjoys petting cats & making cheese based meals for her loved ones.