The No Longer Girls
(A Song Unsung)
The No Longer Girls possessed older boyfriends and carried so many keys. They shouldered off-white, macrame satchels, starving and deep enough for most departures. Fake ids, Aqua Net, one apple, The Pill, and waterproof makeup. The No Longer Girls carried tampons, not pads, Obsession over Love's Baby Soft. They laughed at our curfews but wished for just one. They coded calendars and kept unfinished poems; they watched watches. They carried checkbooks, claimed awareness of balances and costs.
The No Longer Girls carried key chains round as bracelet bangles; the keys, those badges, those hard-won dishonors, clung like charms, sang a jangled song like freedom: the right key, the right lock. The keys glittered from same ring, copper challenging silver, silver scratching gold; they winked in stolen sunlight, never fell from display, or our envy, at the farthest edge of The No Longer Girls desks.
The No Longer Girls, often marked absent when present, held space differently. Their attention trained on some distant shore: a silence called safety.
The No Longer Girls said balancing ledges was easy; you could walk the line on either side of a white picket fence, just know what side you’re on. They did not speak of exits or losing agency, clinics or contingencies. How locks can all change in one kind of blue night. After the inked signatures, after statements copied on straight lines, still as babies uncarried. College acceptances sealed. Events escaped for the privilege of waiting on some star-struck street corner, along Pacific Coast Highway above Strands Beach.
The No Longer Girls knew the weight silence carried. The voiced I miss you, dangerous as a dropped birth control pill, a diaphragm misplaced, a red light run. The L-word, always much too heavy. A locked door, a broken key. A song unsung.