Girlhood by Liz N. Clift


Liz N. Clift

Back when our bodies were just bodies, we wore swimsuits and skipped through sprinklers that created rainbows against every afternoon’s gathering thunderstorm. We caught gold skippers with the red-handled butterfly net when they landed on my mother’s zinnias and four-o-clocks, and the Carolina clay slicked beneath our soles, turned our feet to rust, and later brick as the clay dried. Back when our bodies were just bodies, and we were sun-kissed and never-been-kissed, we dreamed of running away, of saving an orca, like in Free Willy. The particular freedom of the ocean and of the streets and the whole wide world. The way we could be our own heroes. Back when our bodies were just bodies we believed we could do anything. We whispered “Goddamn” to each other when we tired of the sprinkler and the garden and the yard and retreated to the forest where we imagined wood nymphs and gnomes and sharp-toothed monsters with blazing green eyes only we could tame. Goddamn, we were beautiful when summers tasted of Tang and turned our tongues orange and the air was thick with honeysuckle and the song of cicada bloomed and faded and bloomed again, the symphony of the South. When we still had the rangy grace of childhood and eyes that spun mischief and stories. Before we learned to bury ourselves.


© Liz N. Clift


Liz N. Clift holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Iowa State University. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Rattle, the minnesota review, Hobart, Passages North, Booth, and elsewhere. She lives in Colorado.