Poetic Perspectives: “Sour Grapes”

In our first edition of "Poetic Perspectives," Mikayah Parsons '24 pens a coming-of-age tale of queerness, grief, and growth.

In our first edition of "Poetic Perspectives," Mikayah Parsons '24 pens a coming-of-age tale of queerness, grief, and growth. Photo Courtesy of The Indian Express.

Salted watermelon danced across desperate tongues,
Above mud-caked Chucks and panting lungs.
Plastic chairs painted patterns across the backs of too-thick thighs.
Lingering sensation of limbs too close,
As toes curled in the sand, eyes observed the coast.

Fingers fit around bottlenecks, naturally so,
And beer caps littered the beach, unwilling to go.
Lips tasted like salt water–
A tear? A droplet of rain?
The memories of that summer blur in your brain.

The soft slide of ice cream melting from the cone.
Fears shared and tears shed over dying alone.
The memories of panicked screams echoing off the walls.
Nights spent stretched out on the bed or makeshift fort,
Star-speckled sky and drunk confessions of wanting more.

A glazed-over gaze on a set of tanned legs,
Muscles flexed by bespectacled boys who handled the kegs.
These boys carried with them confessions of a crush.
Clothes peeled off, abandoned by the lukewarm lake,
Underwater tangle of legs like fate.

The friction of mouths teasing out moans,
Parent-authorized curfews resulting in groans.  
The evolution of a kiss–
Once a feather-light touch, curious and young,
Now a dash of desire danced out by the tongue.

Palms pushed against chest and weight shifted with vibe,
The squeak of the bed and lovers trying to survive.
Morning spent with blankets in a heap on the floor.
Hands held together or brushing at sides,
The close of summer and the lowering of tides.

Glances exchanged at school behind separate hives,
A pulsating heart through a back stabbed by knives.
You didn’t know each other at school.
Giggles concealed in church while the pastor loomed near,
A pained conversation about publicity and fear.

A knock on the door and mother entered the room.
An issue of Women’s Health hurled at the broom.
Her hand rests on the handle, the other on a white basket.
She bends over and picks the magazine up.
“I’m grabbing your laundry.” She collects your stuff.

Jerseys exchanged as girls in the locker room talk.
You’re on separate teams, and the loser’s team walks.
She raises her eyebrows and wishes you luck on the game.
Your eyes glance over a rib cage you once knew,
And you stare a moment too long as her eyes condemn you.

Part of you wishes you didn’t hate yourself so much,
The way your body still sizzles at the slightest touch.
You spike the ball angrily and hear her skull crack.
It’s the sound of her ass hitting the floor.
She points a finger at your chest and calls you a whore.

The anger you should feel is overshadowed by sorrow.  
The principal tells you you’re expelled from school tomorrow.
You try to remember where it all went wrong.
Principal Brown is lecturing you about anger in sports.
Your mother slaps your hand at your undignified snort.

The boy from the beach takes you for milkshakes that night.
He tells your mother he’s your tutor, and she squeals in delight.
Somewhere in the evening, he gets a little too eager.
He puts his hands in your curls and studies them a beat too long.
He tells you his parents are racist, and the moment is gone.

At graduation years later, she is the girl most known.
You study her from afar alongside pictures in your phone.
She and her boyfriend speak in hushed tones.
The camera around your neck is where you feel you belong.
It has a strap, so it doesn’t have to be strong.

She’s going miles away to a school out of state.
She’s leaving you in the closet to lie in wait.
You blame her for your chest–
For all this pain.
You place the camera around your neck and take pictures in vain.