Cathexis Northwest Press

© 2018 

Photoshoot
00:00 / 02:11

Part your lips. Arch your back. Lean into him
    like you mean it. Scaffold your skin with skeleton

and fold clean, like a Chinese fan. Off with the retainer – 

    I want to see your teeth close around that rose,
that tie, that earlobe. Sweat, that pubescent perfume,
    I want the hordes to squirm and burn
where they stand – at the mall, at the 9 to 5,
    waiting to get their gums cleaned, watching you

soak in a world you have not yet grown into –
    peaches, pools, sopping sunlight, thin shirts.


They look like children, the models. When I made my body
    less, wearing tight clothes felt like a parade; I imagined
the boys – and the girls – would gawk at my metamorphosis

    from a formless, blocky being to a girl,

at how I carved my neck

    into willow branch, my chin into spade, 

my hip bones into a hollow tent of my skin.

    To become a woman is to become fuller, decadence in the flesh,

chest and cheek as soft as brioche au beurre

    but to become ethereal is to empty.


What I didn’t know: this metamorphosis would boomerang;
    when I flattened like sawgrass, 

I saw my child self in the straight hips that returned

    after they pillowed and split the seams of my skin.
In my growing, I never became a woman, just more

    but my waning never carved a girl out of me, 

only a tadpole in the thin,
    a creature, a sprite. The models on the pages
and I, we’ve cycled from being to female
    back to being.

 

These hunters cannot tell siren from succubus,

     the ones who rope faeries into human draping, 

who soften sword-bone with lingerie silk,
    who fence in a wild, weedy dream with a boy. To them,
girl is a word loaded like a pistol, exploding tongue-red
    when shot; girl is a firearm smuggled in cars

or shipped on private jets

    to gush eroticism in the jaws of our editorials –
Arch your back. Let your hips cut through the skin –

    It’s violence, shooting them.

Meimei Xu is a senior at the Westminster Schools in Atlanta, GA. She is a recipient of two National Gold Medals for journalism from the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers and a Gold Key recipient for poetry and memoir. Her writing has been recognized by the Library of Congress and the NCTE Superior Writing Achievement Award, and her work has been published in Typishly. She currently works as a content writer for The Adroit Journal.