Scout & Birdie
Scout & Birdie

Author's note:

In 2016, I began to closely investigate the definitions of words, particularly those with multiple and potentially contradictory meanings. In word definitions themselves, I started seeing stories. It was an easy leap from the practice of close-reading definitions, to writing poems that evolved their stories through the various definitions of a given word. Here is one of those poems, as part of a series that will eventually encompass one word for each letter of the alphabet. 


1. To lead astray; especially:

can't remember her name
just that summer at the pool
when she morphed
          from AA to DD
         under the same bathing suit,

she transfixed me
with her underarm-stubble
         shedding deodorant clumps
         that dissolved
         in fluorescent chlorine;

2. To fail or desert especially in
         time of need.

finding us playing marco polo
she’d wordlessly slide
         into the pool
         when i was marco:

blind in the water
i sensed her nearing presence
         from quick-retreating splashes
         of the polos;

3. To deliver to an enemy by

i grasped ahead
she stood still
         to let me find her
         the thing i least wanted;

when my hand touched her boob
         she giggled
         & wanted to play again,

i said leave me alone then dove off
avoiding her face
         guilt coming in waves
         only much later;

4. To reveal unintentionally.

she stayed away until the last day
when the snack bar cleaned the freezer
         & emptied pops
         into our waiting hands:

i was licking blue-razz
         as she walked up with red
         streaking down her leg;

from afar i thought
         she’d made a mess
         with a cherry pop
         but no,

we’d learned about this
         in health class videos
         which told too much
         without saying a thing:

what do you do
         when it comes for you
         at the pool?

i didn’t know
but was immensely glad
         it was her
         & not me;

her, in that ratty suit
         which she finally
         threw away.


About the artist...

Emily Madapusi Pera is a writer based in Chicago and Providence, RI. Emily has also been featured by Back to Print, Wasted Pages Anthology and Sliced Bread. She derives creative inspiration from varied sources, including the process of baking gluten-free goodies.

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