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Once I Prayed In The Water

Girl a Yellow Bikini mid 1970s

This is a picture of my cousins, Deanna and Cindy. It was taken in the mid-1970s. I wish it wasn’t so blurry but that is the case with so many wonderful images from this era. I love the yellow, orange, and white striped camper in the background. It reminds me of Barbie’s Country Camper, a gift I received for my 8th birthday.

Cindy looks so awesome in her yellow bikini. In the early 1970s, she went with us to Huntington Beach where she surfed way out on the ocean. I was so afraid she was going to drown. I sat on the shoreline staring at her as she grew smaller and smaller and folded into the waves. Soon, she was just an inch tall.

Once I Prayed In The Water

A poem by Sara Henning, winner of the George Bogin Memorial Award, 2019.

Blessed be the good-time girl thighs-deep    in a striped inner tube
cattail fronds & cigarette butts    lush against her toes    blessed be
the empress of chic I was    sixteen    shellacked in Coppertone    tangled
in a pick-up game    of football    her hands    muscular birds
gripping deep    through blitz    & tackle    all the jacked-up Fords
like piss drunk cicadas    pulsing hymns    through rolled-down windows
Stevie Ray and the Boss    shredding through steam    as I spread
my hips    my legs    & lunged    I was the girl kissing boys in sit-top
kayaks    another flea-chawed dog    sun-blissed & brined    as if
someone told her    to breach is to breathe    pretty baby     it’s time to blow
this mortal coil     every minute of her life    so I rode the twist & flush
of summer    until even the stars    couldn’t look at me    before I
was a woman     sand-hardened    late thirties    I slipped like a fish
into spume I quaked all night    in the weeds    I fed on every shine
that would touch me    so Lord,    will you make a temple of the water
will you    brandish your body    in lake-skin for me    I’ve had
enough of this    lemon-swoon sfumato    this musk-blaze of summer
genuflecting    like a fool    I’ve already buried    the shame-slick
pretty young thing    I was    I smoked that queen    when I kissed my mother
blown open by cancer    watched strange men    hoist her body
into an oven    set to the temperature    all things    beautiful & terrible
begin to burn

Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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