12 YEARS OLD

When my girl and her friend walk away from me
at the swimming pool, I see her friend’s
sweet stick legs, thin as
legs drawn by a child, and then I
see my daughter’s curved hocks and
haunches, her hips that behind my back have
swelled until they taper delicious as
chicken legs, the liquid meat of the
thigh. Her joints gently grind and
suck and rock as she walks in rich
innocence toward the diving board, her
chest flat as a plank, the front of her
torso meek and raw as a kid’s, but her
ass delicately flashes its signals:
Soon, now, the gold glow of the
warning lights. She mounts the ladder, her
skin twinkling wet as the basted
broiler half-way done to a turn, she
sways her frail way down the board
waving its wand in the air, the water
far below her rich with college boys, she
grins toward me, her head slick, and
takes the plunge, her pale body
plummeting through the air in silence and then
entering the water with the charged thrust of her
knife into the chicken when she is really hungry.

Sharon Olds | 12 Years Old