We were up in the high broken fire tower
a group of teenagers with the adults
more than a hundred feet below us.
We were staring at the mountains around us
blue, as though the sky rested upon their bodies
when a girl shouted
“It’s hot…let’s strip!”
And as soon as her fingers
began groping at her sweaty tee-shirt
dirty from the day’s hike
everyone else mimicked her—
it didn’t matter what sex they were
the exclamation was like
a demand that they couldn’t refuse.
The wind through the shattered wide windows
tugged at our shirts
and pushed my wild red hair into my eyes
until I blinked and fought it away
with my hands
the only hands that were not
struggling to get my shirt over my head,
to pull off my pants
unlatch my braw
and fling it like a lasso
over my head until it sailed free
and flew for a second
white and colored cups catching the wind
The guys were the first to
get out of their clothes.
Most stood merely in their boxers
and didn’t strip any further
but others, the bolder ones
began to pull off these as well
like all they were doing
was getting changed in the privacy
of their own rooms.
I looked away then
and glanced out of one of the wide
and watched some of the clothes falling
the shirts already on the ground
like so many bodies.
The bras still fluttered their way down
so that it was almost beautiful
the way they fell,
was almost graceful.
I did not look back then
as the giggles turned into
and I could hear feet scuffling
on the hard steel of the ground.
They were all being brave.
They were dancing off-beat
and doing something they would
never have done
except in this high, broken tower
so far away in the mountains.
But I would not dance with them.
My shoes crackled on broken glass
as I descended down the rusty ladder
then the steel stairs.
The tower shook beneath all
their feet pounding,
as I made my decent from that high
The tower was broken
but still high and strange to me.
By the time I reached the grass at the ground
golden green grass that
was trying to be fire
in the bold afternoon light,
the last bras had already fluttered
to the ground at my feet—
thirteen fallen white birds
mocking the one hidden beneath
my plain, dirty t-shirt
the only one that didn’t let go
and dare to take
the long dancing flight.
They mocked me.
and left them there.