The 2River View 28.2 (Winter 2024)

Christine Byrne


two girls—I was pulling my tights up—
they boxcutttered—the ribbons off
my pointe shoes—threw them
in the toilet—the hard toes sinking—
I was on my knees reaching—
barehanded—girls chuckling—
warping—the hardparts the—
ribbons in a wad —sopping my
nylon big—splotches on my thighs—
replaying when that boy—in 4th grade—
drew my name and put it back—
when Allie behind me on the schoolbus—
spit on me by dare—the teenage dance
assistant biting her lip by the water
cooler, awkward, unsure—the nothing
of my left breast slipping up—
pale nipple up my leotard – grabbing
my bag in the row—of hanging
drawstrings—knowing it mattered—
that Leigh’s mom watched my mom put—
groceries back at the checkout—
that public waiting on—a blinking
lane light—it wasn’t big made choices—
to be, I—tried to hide the wet things—
wet things became other wet things

River Eater

oleander—well water—I think I know that—
they mound—the old dumps—into a walking path—
men with iron shovels—mound waste—
I’ve snuck through the corn fields at dusk—
asking the middle of the night—to make me—
important—ports—used to mean something—
I knew about harbors—rivers that fed other rivers—
a pull lock to the basement—where cool air hummed—
where my sister—bathed Johnny—with soap—solution—
gentle—a steel table—how do they make lakes
like the old dumps—draining the body—the smell—
of the church school—smell of the church basement—
we circled Loveland—on a map—
drove through the cornfields at midnight—
downriver—well water—my sister—
closing his mouth—disinfectant—
solutions—draining body fluid—body waste—
oleander—well water—I think that I know—
I can’t outgrow—the kissing sounds—
kids made at me—saying Johnny—
only wanted—to see what I’d let him do to me—
in the field at midnight—feverfew—
signage—fingering lace eyelets—
telling my sister—make him look alive again—
the silver pull lock—I knew hiding spots—
how to get water out of mulberry—how to drain a body—
Johnny—like river eater—like a well—
of water—I can still hear—the schoolgirls whisper—
Delilah’s kiss of deathDelilah’s kiss of death

Christine Byrne is an MFA candidate at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she won the John Logan Prize. Recent work is forthcoming in Best New Poets, The Journal, The New England Review, and elsewhere. (linkedin)
<< Aurora Lee Passin Dana Jaye Cadman >>
Copyright 2River. Please do not use or reproduce without permission.