Emmie Christie

Public Pool v. Being Thirteen

At thirteen, shrinking
In your father’s old t-shirt,
you mince across the hot cement, head down,
Confused why suddenly it’s okay
To show your legs.
You fret about arm hair.
Why does no one else have arm hair?
Shouting, chaos, the loud sun—
You crinkle into a tight flower bud
Unwilling to bloom.
Your brothers won’t have it. They pull you in
With mockery, and names,
And you toe the water. It’s so cold
You’re afraid to unfold your arms
From over your chest.
The lifeguard watches, like she knows
You can’t swim, her eyebrows soaring
Under the brim of her cap.
Why do you feel so exposed,
Singled out, and side-eyed,
When everyone else shows off skin,
Glistening in the blue
of the chlorine and the sky?
Your parents aren’t here, though,
And you want,
You want
To try out a revealing,
To display this new feeling
that’s not dwindling or retreating,
But a rising of a hope that you can blossom, too.
You sink your feet into the shallow
End, the easy end, and shiver, and grin,
And you flip underwater and let the t-shirt
Roll off like a shell.
Then you can swim.

Emmie Christie’s work tends to hover around the topics of feminism, mental health, cats, and the speculative such as unicorns and affordable healthcare. She has been published in Flash Fiction Online and Three-Lobed Burning Eye, and she graduated from the Odyssey Writing Workshop in 2013. She also enjoys narrating audiobooks for Audible. You can find her at http://www.emmiechristie.com or on Twitter @EmmieChristie33.