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  • Blooms exactly
  • Courtney Faye Taylor (bio)

after Larry Levis

My youth?  I spent it all betweenthe knees of hairbraiders, begging kanekalonto name me a debutante or mistake meforeign. Those knees I matured between

worked weeks at Kween of Kinks

Braid Boutique, which was an old U.S. Cellular, behindwhich my boyfriend's Chevrolet vanished under sleet. Andsouthern magnolias in hibernation pulsed like sea channels, orseemed to channel, a yearly seedy casualty all over. I cleaned

for the braiders on Fridays. They sprawled

their slippered feet on the shampoo bowls whenever Ibrought the vacuum around and hummed my 2010 urbanitetunes: Bedrock, Bottoms Up, No Hands—sexist verses I savedfor the bathroom while lemon-scenting the shitter and

spritzing some Chanel No. down my bloomers, bloomingwhere you know it blooms exactly. Still even whenI smelled good, I smelled busy. And I hated high school.Novembers I rode the 60 to Wauwatosa Mall just to sniff

the food court's teriyaki and auntie sugar pretzels. Thosebus rides were so boring that I pretended to smoke candycanes, clicking an inkpen in front of the sucked pointy end toimitate igniting. Sometimes boys with flies undone

        jittered past me towards the Rosa seats        without my noticing. And from my window [End Page 140] I watched trashcans of all purposes blow their hearts outacross crosswalks. I had a knack for telling city garbagefrom residential garbage: Tampons, Crown Royal, tattered Crisis mags    or playbills for Fences, gold minute hand of a wristwatch,

jaybird bones. So why not admit it? I was petrifiedthen. My boyfriend drove past Decorah where the boy scoutscamped. His Chevy must've seemed Xzibit-pimped to the fist-headed campers whose kickballs and cameraphones toooften sought the hood. Their curiosity left no dent, but say

it had; no boy would pay. This hood wasn't their hoodto heal. Hella girls at my high school from hoods unhealed

aced parabolas, sailed me by to ivies and housewifery.All night they enthralled my jealousies with nothing onbut the height of their nipples.    Mine, Eiffel-tallin my father's chilly condo, which stayed chilly so that

my hardness gave a show as I lazedtowards the kitchen in a camisole for some MinuteMaid. Had I known what my upper halfwas making this man do for temperature

          I would've laughed.    I was a damn good merry maid.

Bleach licks. Pocketed fro picks. Egregious tips. A lifelike that?    It seemed to kill me forever. [End Page 141]

Courtney Faye Taylor

Courtney Faye Taylor is a winner of the 92Y Discovery / Boston Review Poetry Prize and a graduate of the Helen Zell Writers' Program at the University of Michigan. Her poetry appears in The Kenyon Review, The Adroit Journal, TriQuarterly, and elsewhere. Find her online at



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