Sally J. Johnson's poetry and nonfiction have appeared in the Collagist, Bodega, the Pinch, and elsewhere. Named the winner of the 2015 Poetry International Prize judged by Carol Frost, Sally J. Johnson has also been honored as a finalist in Sycamore Review's Wabash Prize for Nonfiction and won Madison Review's Phyllis Smart-Young Prize for Poetry. She is an educator and writer living in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
paint your toenails a harsh and freeing green. nineties girl again, thinking the line between glitter / sequin meant grown-up. pulling grass from the ground to try to make sounds from that feather, first kiss the long neck of a bottle spinning, sipping grenadine down like it was liquor after all. all us braiding our hair in a line and me always feeling as sorry for the girl in back as much as I was thankful-faced I wasn't her. how many poems have I seen on the inside of a bathroom stall door? how many not-poems? daisy chain, chain smoking so as to be both growth and decay, except all we were hoping for was cool. seeing your face at a wedding all those years later, it looked like sage the way you said "everything is reversible" which is not something we ever learned in school.
I wrote this poem first as a way to heal myself, if I could, of the unique hurt of my childhood best friend and I breaking up. I wanted a focus on the naivety and wisdom of girlhood, on growth and also the idea of growth in its place. I didn't realize until I edited my way there that I needed to be able to take it all back at the end. That quote is something my friend, the amazing writer & person Eric Tran, really did say to me at a wedding to ease an anxiety of mine about my health. He'd just started med school so I figured if he was stretching the truth for my sake, it was healthiest to believe him.
Glass: A Journal of Poetry is published monthly by Glass Poetry Press.
All contents © the author.