Cheyenne McIntosh


When I first met her, I was drowning.
The lifeguard bruised my ribs,
his fists pumping between my breasts.
I tasted the chemicals
swirling around my tongue
before chunks of Coney dog and acid
graced the hot pavement.

That day, I let her walk me home.
She’d remind me of this later:
Grief never chased me down;
I followed her inside.

We slept over the sheets the first night,
our skin never touching.
I listened to her deliberate breaths,
cicadas and ragweed stagnant in the air.
Her diaphragm moved like my mother’s
and I knew she was here to stay.

She took her coffee with ice cubes
and when she licked the porcelain mug
I wanted her.
Her fingers traced my stretch marks
like they were secret Scripture
and I counted the ceiling tiles.

We looked like sisters, Grief and me,
Our hair in knots, unclean and hot.
I took scissors to chop it all off,
to make us different,
but she brushed my bangs back
and said, “child, summer is over”
in a New Orleans drawl so slick
that I felt the sugar on my teeth.

I poured bleach down all the drains
to drown any fruit flies nesting there
and then I waited for her,
lying on the bathroom linoleum,
listening for her to tiptoe into bed,
knowing that I could not leave.

Cheyenne McIntosh currently lives in Indianapolis, IN, where she shares custody of a dog with her close friend and roommate. Her memoir and poetry have been published in both print and online journals, including Apogee and Atticus Review. She also recently finished her debut novel Blackdog. She can be found on Twitter @crm_writes when she should be sleeping.