Scales

Her scales, burnt and shredded and crisp and flaking

Are

Falling

Pirouetting

Lilting

Stumbling

Over themselves

In their first,

And last,

Moments of untethered freedom.

Graceful in their destruction

Spiraling

Careening

Out of control

As they plummet

Plummet

Plummet

Plummet

Towards the earth

As if making the poignancy of death last forever

Until kissing the velveteen soil

With all the eloquence of parted lips that never spoke.

All of this

Because she was waiting for eventually.

Because she knew the barefooted running days had to kick up some stones.

Because she knew the hands clasped so tight had to clam.

Because she knew August had to die.

Because August had to shrivel up inside her with the promises,

And the lingering eyelashes,

And the perfume-choked air,

And the knees stained green under the hem of a seersucker dress,

And the teeth like two Chiclets biting a mushed cherry lip,

And the sweating car windows,

And the unclasped button blinking,

And the trembled breath.

August was too hot a blaze to be kept.

She knew then with all those temptations

She could never keep the scales.

Her scales, rotten and moist and limp and mildewed

Are

Lingering

Regretting

Laying

On their bare backs

Pondering when they were shaken loose

Her scales, littered like shrapnel

Decayed

So that she could keep growing

from the newly soft earth.

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