Endangered Afternoons

These endangered afternoons hang
like eggshells, suspended from a sky bleached by
its own wind, the way a desert seems like its own fault.
These afternoons are a different kind of barren,
pierced by spindly fingers of trees,
half-cracked by wasted plans, fading indistinctly
into the extinction of a deep and perilous evening.
Were these the longed-for afternoons I sought
when, drunk on the bee-sting venom of a sweltering afternoon,
alone in the jungle of my discontent,
I swore to another bleached-through sky
I would only ever love the winter?

Had I known then what I know now, would I have
been so eager to cast off the beaded arms
of friendlier warmth – not tensed so soon
or so fully, and learned to love the scent of a morning,
and learned the language of insects as they
spun their symphonies above my head?
Or would it have mattered to a girl
too young to be built on, fragile in extremity,
hardened by fear, unwillingly tanned –
was it that she was always unable to appreciate
the curve of a mountain hung with the scorched fruit
of a season? Am I still so illiterate – willfully so –
that the language of afternoons yet leaves me
so mutely terrified of time?

The afternoon is dying, but
I bear the curse of still being young,
earning still the bone antiquities that plague a soul
slowly brittling,
slowly shaved to sharpness –
must this be the way I grow old?

©K Paige Medina 1 December 2017

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