It’s my job to prune the dead between pinched
fingers, shear the rot around their thighs
and tend the dirt. My dirty girls! Come

inside, lie on your bellies beneath my heat
lamp. On Sundays, I fill my spray bottle
with holy water and sponge their spines, shiny

like a thumb taken into the mouth and sucked
clean. In summer, my girls hum and stretch,
suckle sunlight with chests split open

synthesizing. Worms writhe but my girls know
when their chins tuck, they miss the fight. Only
so much sun, and it’s a girl eat girl eat

chlorophyll world, a worm’s world. Grow
your hair until it curls around the next girl’s
neck. When the skin on your hips swells pink,

drink with your hips—that’s how you get
the most sun. I snip the buds between their legs,
deflower my girls grown in rows because

it’s that time, girls, snip snip. Don’t touch the bees
until they touch you first. My girls, so ripe
with pollen, make such sweet honey but keep

lips sewn. Let them sting you and say thank
you—you will welt but I’ve got my holy water,
sponging where it hurts. If thorns sprout through

your wrist, know this is just part of growing
up. Prick a finger and suck. Only so much sun,
sometimes you need to drink yourself. Come

inside, I’ve got the heat lamp warm, shearing
your stems and cinching your waists with pink
ribbon. I bouquet my girls. A vase in the kitchen

so I can watch my girls while I eat: such great
centerpiece, such conversation-starters, so
curated! I palm their chins, pocket the seeds

bled from their lips—and when they wilt,
I comb their curls and pluck their fruit
and dump the water in the sink.


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SOPHIE PAQUETTE is from Bloomington, Indiana, and attends Interlochen Arts Academy, where she serves as an editor for The Interlochen Review. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from The Offing, Midwestern Gothic, and Up North Lit. Her writing has also been recognized by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, Princeton University’s Leonard L. Milberg ’53 High School Poetry Prize, and the Bennington Young Writers Awards.