Claire VanDerLaan

fifth of july

in the alabama springtime we pressed our blue
hot hands into each others skin,
ate cherries and spat the pits into each other’s palms.
i practiced ballet until my feet bled, waited for you to pause
the music. we took turns holding the lighter
until midnight flooded your eyes and the candle wax spilled
over. your appendix burst and we had to bite it out.

you were both cruel and soft. still somehow a gift, even
all clenched fists, soup with too much garlic, the acrid bite of mold,
the undersides of my drowned fists.

when the rain stops drumming on the roof,
we drink seltzers and pass the sun between us,
watching the tired hostile horizon, your long legs
crescendoing off of the pier.

Claire VanDerLaan is a recent graduate of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. The Lavender Review is her first publication.