Benny Rhodes

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Spell for Binding

Start by collecting sunlight in mason jars,

one for every year you haven't been able

to swim shirtless. Next, crush blackberries

in your fists, however many it takes to stain

your fingernails. Eat the leftovers for a snack

if you like, you'll need your strength coming up.

 

Fill a porcelain tub with warm water

and dunk your head in until your

ears pop, hold your breath, and stay

while you think about the time at a restaurant

when your dad kept bouncing the booth

until your mom cut his name across your throat,

gesturing to her breasts and nodding her eyes

at you. Breathe in, you won't drown. Stay under

and remember how running makes you jiggle.

Let the heat from your cheeks boil the water

until it all evaporates. Exhale.

 

Lay shirtless by a pond in moonlight.

Smear your sticky palms across your chest

to attract dragonflies. Let them kiss away

the blue and black seeds, fall asleep with 

your eyes on the stars. When you wake up,

you'll have peace. Your body will not rise

in ways you don't want it to.

I think it's time I talk about what it's like

When I got my period in the seventh grade

and told my friends in P.E. as we walked along

the dirt track that outlined the five-sided fence

at the back of the middle school's property

 

I was met with cheers and hands on my back.

Blue shorts, grey t-shirts, we once ran away

screaming from a girl who said she liked other

girls. I was screaming loudest, reached the corner

 

of the fence first, had to turn around and wait

for them to catch up to me, laughing. The blood 

didn't spill at first, it spotted, but I stuffed my purple 

Vera Bradley shoulder bag with pads and pantiliners 

 

and when I felt the first bit of liquid pool out of me,

I asked to go to the bathroom, every girl recognizing

that I left with my purse. On the toilet, I cried, but that's 

probably an exaggeration. I peeled the packet I made

of two pads and a pantiliner off my underwear

and replaced them, then waddled back to class

with my eyes down. 

 

Twelve is too young to wrap your boyhood 

in its sticky, plastic sheath and shove it 

in a metal box on the wall beside you.

Poet Biography

Benjamin Anthony Rhodes is a poet studying under the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts program. His work is present or forthcoming in Rubbertop Review and Luna Negra