Two Poems by Cassandra Dallett

I was the girl they whispered about

big as I was
I still felt the brush of crumpled paper and orange peels
bounce off my  shoulders on the school bus.
Me stubbornly staring Dad’s Chevy skully
out the window
When I got up the nerve
to look back everything went blurry a swirl of pale faces
like the girls in the Carrie locker room
I’d wonder if I was just paranoid.

By High school being whispered about was a challenge
each day  I’d confront them
more outrageous
Hair chopped ragged with sewing scissors
dresses made from pillowcases armholes cut
near the top by my Sponge Bob shoulders
the bottom grazing my crotch
thick thighs pushing it up
unsure how much I was actually showing
daring them
in their Izods, Levis, and shit kickers
to look
to say anything
so they whispered, snickered always seemed to already know
who I’d gotten drunk and fucked at the party.
Art teachers loved me I made earrings from Barbie accessories
collaged crazy things and liked spray paint.
Other teachers grew nervous
I was too serious too fidgety
A scribble of writing on a wrinkled paper
C- at best.

On Haight Street they still whispered
the girlfriends,
hated me
I only hung around dudes
to be around testosterone drinking and fighting
got my combat boots twisted behind my ears
by young punks in alleys
they laughed and whispered
but none of them
wanted to fight me.

____________

Barn Razing

My first kiss
Tommy Toflin
in the hay loft
till dawns light striped
through cracks
and knot holes
in wide boards.
Hay is not fun to roll in
it scratches flesh red-raw
leaves your skin burning long after.
Tommy was a terrible kisser
drooled down my chin
his fingers gynecological
in their probing.

The barn made me nervous
with my fear of spiders speckled grey sacks
and the ladder to get up there
three stories straight up
gave me vertigo.
Swinging  my leg over the edge
to step on to the loft
caused hours of anxiety.

Within its  tall, tall sliding doors
a rusty tractor and combine
sheep coming in and out chewing stupidly
I learned to milk goats here
to get grain from a  silo
cut open fresh bales.

Stored my furniture
between coastal moves
Till it burned to the ground
the volunteer fire department hose
too late and too small for the blaze.

After it was gone
leaving only a smoldered black square
Mom found pictures of the barn raising
looking a hundred years old
I was too young to remember.
In black and white,  long haired
t shirted hippies
holding beer bottles and hammers
in happy, industrious chaos.

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