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In my car everyone is invincible

By which I mean that time my boyfriend and I chased each other while driving through Bakersville there was some combination of six middle schoolers between us. Or, not really “between us,” but rather three kids in each of our silver bullets, not that I remember if P or J was shotgun in my Subaru Forester. Or if T or C was in the backseat of S’s Honda Civic. It was a Wednesday afternoon. Anyhow, that time S and I chased each other while driving up and down 80, we told all the kids to lie, told them to blame the extra color in their cheeks on ice cream. Yeah. I told them to lie about what we’d done that afternoon—which is really a moment I ought to be more ashamed of— but well, I did it anyway that time, or rather, they did what I asked them to do, which was lie, that time we drag-raced through winding mountain roads, windows down and C’s fourteen year old hair flying out like streamers, like the Fourth of July better than any of them had ever had in this blue ridge town. The world so shiny and breakable. I didn’t even consider the guilt. The world so gorgeous when the wheels screeched, when the tires burned their skin into the gravel, when P laughed and laughed and laughed. Imagine Clap your hands and say yeah the loudest it could go. Imagine gravel road dust in the air. Imagine hairpin turns at breakneck speeds, the green jello that spilled in the back of S’s car. And we were being as safe as possible, given the fact that growing up is like drowning in plain oxygen while your lungs try to teach one another to dance dirty. By which I mean that the kids were fine. By which I mean that the kids were absolutely and altogether not fine, were in fact dying of their own youthfulness, dying of the same sickness as everyone else, only quicker. By which I mean we all made it back in time for that afternoon’s classes. It was a Wednesday afternoon.

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Anne Livingston is a queer poet currently living in North Carolina, where they teach writing and comics. Their work is published or forthcoming in Iron Horse, Diode, Oakland Arts Review, and Stone of Madness. They received a Brooklyn Poets Fellowship earlier this year. They do not believe dandelions to be a weed.

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