Tenth Grade

by Michael Sarinsky

What Hailey Thinks of Anna:

Melancholy swims in shallow water
the size of movie screens,
paw prints, bubble gum, and air.

I want to read about ecosystems
that periodically catch fire
like rocket ships.

Who can smell the decay?
and does it make the forest more or less hungry?

***

What Anna Thinks of Hailey:

You say it has nothing to do with morality but you punctuate with       indiscriminate air quotes so I have no idea what the        fuck you are talking about. Sometimes when you talk about getting       your beagle high, I think about people who take the elevator down one floor and how no country has a longer            history with compulsory sterilization than ours. Romances don’t get sequels, only popcorn flicks and porn.

***

What Katie Thinks of Hailey:

after Brigit Pegeen Kelly, sorta

I asked for fishnets, so you guided me toward better-lighted stairwells, burn books, tan lines, even Jericho. Then we started counting fish. At the markets and aquaria, tallying carp and neon tetra, scales glimmering like the Iditarod sky, its crepuscular sprawl, starfish, tendrils, octopi. Iditarod meaning either “clear water” or “distant place,” depending. When Rahab hid the Israelites, she wist not where they were. Peer across this desert tundra. Here is my Red Lantern.

***

What Anna Thinks of Katie:

The water wars are coming.
Also our coastal cities are on the verge of flood.

Nearly any vegetable can be pickled.
Plus meats, fruits, and eggs. Cancerous, all.

Taffy is mostly aerated sugar, plus coloring.
And teeth are made of tissue, not bone.

Salt is another common misconception,
I suspect we will soon discover.

Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo—
is a complete sentence ad infinitum.

***

What Katie Thinks of Anna:

after Sasha Fletcher, kinda 

A door-to-door salesman sold me knives and though he demonstrated their sharpness in my kitchen I now find them fairly blunt which makes them useless for preparing vegetables but optimal for Stage III Psychic Crises, so that’s good news I guess. My father said Why would you spend two hundred dollars on knives when we have perfectly good knives already couldn’t you have bought encyclopedias instead? and then tried to use the knives as encyclopedias but their only entry was Lambs, Ritualistic Sacrifice of. You bought me my first canister of mace and attached it to my keychain like it opens something. You said there’d be boys at the party. You left me at the party with the boys and the mace to get yourself a taco and didn’t bring one back for me which was fine that’s not really the point. It’s not the salesman’s fault though like the rest of you he didn’t help.

***

What Hailey Thinks of Katie:

When that cop who knew your cousin
cited us for dancing too loudly
you said “Sorry, officer”
like you were accepting an award.

Sixty years ago Bedloe’s Island was renamed
to match the Statue. Do you know it?
She’s 32-31-35, feet not inches,
and they didn’t clean the rust.

We are cheerleaders for the losing team.
We are dragracing toward maternity wards.

Michael Sarinsky is a graduate of the NYU MFA program and an Assistant Editor at Conjunctions, with work forthcoming in Passages North and SmokeLong Quarterly.