my friends and i spent a lot of time in the ditch behind my best friend’s house. it was just a little spot of woods. a little creek. some beer cans along the way. a few Slurpee cups (ours) and we liked the reprieve of shade in August and we liked the shelter of no one else around. we would dare each other to do things. howl as loud as you can. do a cartwheel near the thornbed. press your whole hand in the mud.  jump over a pile. make it to the other side. actually they dared me to do these things. I just needed the green light and having gotten skin in rose stem, a little blood didn’t bother me. would often become engrossed in the cut before bandaging it. I took a lot of risks is the understatement of a lacerated life.

there was a time I tried to jump over one of the widest sections of the water. after seeing the boys make it and Stacey make it, thought this is a breeze.  but I overestimated my dismount. or, I got nervous in front of Johnny. I remember Stacey laughing and pointing at me which I hated. usually landing on two feet. (wait til your knees burst). walking the rest of the way with mud caked up my left knee and not going home to change either. just bursting into 7-11 for more gum with pride. wayward, disheveled orphan of the block. all gumption and big pockets. took more than usual that day just to prove I could.  it was losing I hated. didn’t mind so much the feeling of the dirt.

and then the spots of poison ivy hidden. I am courageous in charge and always tactile, touching everything I come across. and smitten with my mind. only listening for my name, otherwise, running my fingers across every greenery within sight. now poxed.  rubbing the perlicue against the knuckle of the other hand and letting the sst out. my face swollen and red so the guys in my class think I got in a fight. smirk. never tell them anything.the relief of it. and almost moaning as I ran the prong of fork down my leg. scraped it along my calves. dug in at ankles.sst. poking each patch of red, hard like I’m trying to make a fat lip, then dragging it back up again. watching the blood run down. the effect of effect cooling me more than calamine.  then getting the washrag for that. inhaling the copper scent. licking it off a dirty nail bed. yeah, I liked the way blood felt
and  looked
and smelled
sometimes.

“the itch game”

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