Blood Firsts

Kelly Weber
| poetry


I bury my bloody underwear in the trash out back where coyotes yip at night. When we talk about the girl who drowned in the reservoir on the edge of town, I pick my skin open like a dare: first a little flap, then a sudden rush of red. I tell my father my friend said a construction worker on the roof of the school shouted nice ass at her, he says she wishes she got that kind of attention. A boy bites my lip for seven minutes and I feel every failure to want. I bleed for almost two months straight, like I could leak enough into a girl. My father loads a gun, aims at the crows that circle and dive at him to guard their nests. My grandmother talks about wanting to keep daughters small, little baby heads cradled in her palms, each breath needing her to go on living. I dream wet hair tangled in beer cans. I dream a girl with headlights for eyes, a throat churning cigarettes, broken glass under blue. I walk down the hall to the steer skull my mother drew, pull it down. I peer through the paper sockets to see my young mother narrow as a birch, leaning over her art with such fierce attention. The first time I put my feet in the stirrups and let the blue gown fall open to nipple and navel, I stain the paper sheet a little. The first time I try the word asexual in my mouth and the man smirks out back behind the bar, his eyes taking me as a challenge. I stumble over railroad tracks to the reservoir, draw nude after nude I don’t know how to need, draw the cross and the doll left for the girl where the deer sometimes come to drink streaked with headlights. My mother and I care for the road-broken things in our garage for long as we can. Little bones heal fastest after a break.

Kelly Weber (she/they) is the author of the debut poetry collection We Are Changed to Deer at the Broken Place (Tupelo Press, 2022). She is the reviews editor for Seneca Review, and their work has appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Southeast Review, and elsewhere.

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