Chlorine  Cl, 17

1977

One piece bathing suit

made of heavy double-knit

with a modesty skirt that clings

to my thighs

and darts for chests

girls at my junior high don’t seem

to have.

Each size a different color;

baby blue for size 2, then stoplight red,

navy, petal pink, Kelly green, tulip yellow, magenta & hunters’ orange for size 16.

The boys are lined up against the tile wall

as we are escorted past, to the deep end.

A sad anthropological study gone wrong.

We are not exotic birds.

We have no colorful plumes.

Just buds of breasts and oil spills,

bloody nicks on our legs,

hair that refuses to feather.

I am a girl who shows no signs

of maturing, my body

is straight lines; no curves, no turns

no place to get lost.


Julia Klatt Singer

Julia Klatt Singer is the poet in residence at Grace Neighborhood Nursery School and a rostered artist for Compas. She is co-author of Twelve Branches: Stories from St. Paul, (Coffee House Press), and author of three books of poetry; In the Dreamed of Places, (Naissance Press), A Tangle Path to Heaven, and Untranslatable, (North Star Press). She has co-written two dozen songs with composer Tim Takach and Jocelyn Hagen. Her son likes to describe her as a long-haired, sweater wearing, wild-eyed poet and thief.
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