BY JADE BENOIT
Post-doomsday & anti-
cowgirl, you are both raging
& repentant for the swollen levee
of corpses, so many with head wounds
the size of your camp knife. I wish
my girlhood could have been
one giant mimic of you -- a slash
of sugar cane here, a quick stab
at a cypress trunk there. A white trash
superhero gone rogue. Instead
I let the barbarians circle me
with a hatchet & scream at me
to remove however many fingers
it took to avoid infecting the entire
town. I purged my bloody insides
onto my bed sheets every night
& called out for a savior to scour
my teeth marks clean, but he never
showed up & I was never brave.
But you never gave two fucks.
When the gunslingers showed up
for their end of the movie kiss
you flipped them off & made out
with your girlfriend. I always wanted
to be in your audience, Tara.
But I am the zombie
laying on the abandoned shore
waiting for you
to put your legs around me
& sink your knife in my skull.
I would have seen myself in you, miss
psycho pep squad. Miss teenage witch.
I was born in a ditch. I was born a dyke
but drowned that part of myself in the bayou
& emerged ready to battle the darkness
inside me. In 1997, I thought Taylor Hanson
was a the most gorgeous girl I’d ever seen.
A seriously uncomfortable obsession
for a tomboy. Then there was Mariah Carey
& her legs, her hair, her everything stretched
across my walls like strange geography
I was dying to navigate. I couldn’t pronounce
the names for what I was. I couldn’t give my
evil a voice. But in another dimension, you & your
girlfriend cast spells & rattled gravestones
with your power. What was it like to know
the Big Bad was never part of you
as your breath quickened against her neck
on the bedroom floor? Because somewhere
on a dusty road, I siphoned the laughter
at my boys’ blue jeans into a gas can, burned
all my Barbies at the stake, & retreated to the woods
alone. You were there the whole time.
Every morning before school, I strapped on
my girliest parade while my brother
watched Buffy. If only he’d said, look.
That girl is just like you but he didn’t
know & I didn’t either. I just stumbled
into you 15 years past your death.
15 years past the moment your blood
sprayed across Willow’s face, reaffirming
the repressed crunching popcorn
in the dark that our love
will be the thing that kills us.
Jade Benoit carries an MFA in Poetry from University of North Carolina - Wilmington. Her work has been featured in Black Warrior Review, H_NGM_N, Nashville Review, Phoebe, LUNGFULL! Magazine, and Narrative Northeast, among many others.