Sweet Talk for Sophomore Year
Jackson Trice

We were walking through
     a corn maze that Halloween
all the unpicked pumpkins

went soft on their vines early.
     You were explaining how
his freshman body felt pressed

up next to yours. Remember how
     the cornstalks wilted
into themselves? The cold air

snapped the world shut,
     fingers numb. Lemon pink
sky taut above us, your breath

visible: a smoking engine:
     a fired gun. You were talking
about his nervousness. How it

caused a lack in rhythm. To
     which I said, Whatever. That’s
disgusting. Whatever. It’s

freezing out here. Whatever.
     The sky’s so pink, how can
it even stand itself ? I think of this

in place of that conversation:
     In first grade, the neighbor’s
dog tried to eat all the meat

off your face. No time between
     your body hitting the grass, or
your nose to his yellow

stained teeth, Iams breath.
     That all happened before
we met, so I can only know

the scar as a scar. What I know
     firsthand is the look
on your face upon hearing

your older sister’s Honda
     humming in the driveway,
home early for Christmas

break. I know the bruises,
     where you put perfume
as a get well card to your

rib cage, elbows, wrists
     I know my own malicious,
retrospective protection that

creates this obsession.
     I know I’ve become
the bloodhound.

I once dreamt a girl was
     stripping right in front of me
but she didn’t stop

once all the skin was
     showing & she didn’t stop
when I asked her to. She

didn’t stop until there was
     nothing left but bone. Lately,
I’ve found pieces of your

skeleton in every corner I’ve
     been. Can’t decide which
part I’m more afraid of:

The thought of his face
     overlapping mine like double
exposure, or that your

bruised body’s the maze
     I’ll spend my whole
life walking in.


Volume Three, Winter Tangerine Review

Jackson Trice lives in Greenville, South Carolina. She’s a senior at an arts boarding school where she eats pizza, kills bugs in her shower, and writes. Last year, she won a national Gold Medal in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, was published in The Best Teen Writing of 2013, and named a YoungArts Finalist in Poetry. This year, she’s just praying she graduates.