The Tortoise Girl Next Door

tortoise-mdby Kirby Wright

I spy your backyard from my second floor: you balance on the back of a bronze tortoise, surfing your reptile barefoot over the pockmarked lawn. Torn jeans reveal skin at knees and thighs. Hip action makes me ache to hold you. “Wish I were back in high school,” I whisper at glass, “in every one of your classes.”

Your skateboard sang over asphalt. You ground lust into hearts as your foot stroked the blacktop, thigh and butt muscles flexing. You gave me that look whenever zipping by, blonde hair flying. I scoured the neighborhood for you after school. Did I remind you of your old man? He was shorter but around my age and we both wore white tanks to show off tans. Now you’ve moved north of the park, into a rental with your mother and big brother. I overheard your mother at the Farmer’s Market.

Your house is shrouded in black tarp today. Terminix vapors poison the bits of you left behind. I don’t want the spiders you loved to die, the ones you gave life in the corners of your room. The daddy longlegs will get gassed, the way your father did when your mother caught him in Tijuana. That girl is now his fiancée and they’ll marry the day she turns legal.

I wheel out my trash and line the receptacles against the curb. I close my eyes. I imagine us dancing in the orange halos thrown by streetlights. You let me wrap my hands around your waist and pull you close. Our lips part, tongues fluttering in mid-air like wings. I open my eyes to a howling coming from the north. Do reptiles cry? Or maybe your mother has adopted a guard dog to replace your father. I picture you shifting your weight for balance as you surf your tortoise south under the stars.


Kirby Wright suffers from bouts of claustrophobia. He is testing his blood sugar right now to see how far from normal he is.
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