The Book of Adolescence

By Angela Rydell

Someone is reading her.  She lures him
out of childhood just walking past him in the hallway 
trailing the scent of open sky, green leaves.  He enters her

story, the story he tells of her in his mind, 
fragrant in flesh tones and fleshed out
with the surge of water falling, the thrum of bees.  
He doesn’t yet know what it means.  Just keeps opening
the pages — a passage unfolds the curved lift 
of her barretted hair, then a whole chapter traces 
the way her hips sway the denim backpack 
with bright red poppies embroidered 
from the field he would like to lie her down in,
make a close study of removing blue jeans, 
buttoned blouse and bra revealing 
the pale mystery that’s under.  Would she cry out 
as he presses their bodies together like pages
discovers the soft layers within her body.  Hand moving 

to her face, she shies from his gaze
as he walks by, carrying the book of biology 
between them, aware that her hair is solid black 
and smooth as summer rain, her clothes white 
and thin as paper.  And she knows 
within her a humming teems, pages rustle, fields 
fill with apple trees in which she’s pictured naked 
and reaching toward the reddest 
skins.  Between her new breasts, her young hips 
there is poetry. And fiction too.  
Someone has written crib notes along her margins, 
drawn in lurid signs that make her blush, new words 
in a language she’s begun studying, whispering 
its hiss.  This does not mean 

they are ever going to kiss. Only that in them 
it is spring, and this is a book made long before
either of them were in it.  As they pass, they nearly brush
shoulders, ignite a light friction like fingers turning paper, 
readers lifting and releasing the page to keep the story going.
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About Angela Rydell

Angela Rydell's stories and poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Sun, Indiana Review, Crab Orchard Review, Barrow Street, Prairie Schooner, Alaska Quarterly Review and elsewhere. She is a recipient of Poets & Writers’ Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award, a Pushcart Prize nominee, and holds an MFA from Warren Wilson College. Angela's currently at work on True North, a novel about an unemployed weatherman trying to make his life more predictable.

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