by Hayley Brooks

Elizabeth’s Basement

The blue-gray shag carpet
frozen on most winter nights,
the blanket with satin rim
and unexpected roughness I
would normally get stuck with
at sleepovers, the velvet Siamese
cats who stepped on our small breasts
just as we stilled our bodies, the
Australian cattle dog who vaguely
resembled a sausage when she rolled
over: I know the smell of this hollow, still.
We gathered here most weekend nights
to dance in the blue light of Disney movies,
bang the broken drum set, and sift
through her dad’s bookshelves. When
the boys showed up, they wrapped their
legs around the white, scuffed pole
and cooed at us girls. She sat palms
down on the carpet, legs splayed out
in front of her, rattled off music
trivia to impress them.
I gathered my breath in silent inhale,
my body becoming her mimicry, learning
the language of flirt from her
hands and long hair.
She could spread her arms, braid her
hair, lower her voice just enough,
position her hips towards them, these boys;
it was all so nonchalant for her, this adolescent

When the boys left, we foraged the
basement for blankets and pillows.
I stayed awake to look at her
the way she looked at the boys
when she wasn’t all hips and game.

– – – – –

Hayley Brooks is a poet from Denver, CO who is now based in Minneapolis, MN. Her work has been published in Lavender Review and The Mennonite. She has a chapbook, “Becoming Hallowed,” published through PinchPenny Press. She currently works for the Brethren Mennonite Council for LGBT Interests. Find her online at

lipstickpartymag has also published Hayley’s poem “Debatable.”

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