Beware the Mature Friend

Content Warning: Self-Harm

I’m worried about the girl with the golden rings
That slide around her fingers at the amusement park. 

She sits in the red-trimmed booth, 
Ripping off ticket stubs on steamy afternoons with
Mosquitos buzzing around her ankles. 

She used to hide her ears behind her long black hair
Because they were too pointy, but laughed when 

I called them her elf antennas. 
Then she dyed her hair brown and slipped the golden rings 

Between the calluses on her fingers because 
It looks more mature, and she stopped laughing with me. 

Seventeen and still under five feet, my friend ー
Who reads pornographic fantasy novels and 

Finds excitement in the array of rainbow keys she carries
Around, wears golden rings, 

Writes with her left hand and stains each knuckle with ink,
Sniffles through February, refusing to wear a jacket because 

She can’t feel the cold, honestly ー 
Is an island I’m never able to reach. 

And I have tried and begged and stolen photographs
Of her smile, but she continues to rip off the ticket 

Stubs, choosing to stay isolated ー 
the glass screen forever between us. 

She never told me why she stopped 
wearing the rings, or why there are fresh cuts on her hand,
or why she grinned the first time her finger bled from
The broken coca-cola bottle in the sand that day. 

Never seems to worry about herself,
Never allows anyone else to tell her to be careful or to watch 

Out or that she is loved by those outside of that damn ticket booth
And beyond the width of the golden rings. 

But I watch her rip off these ticket stubs in
Booth A Of the amusement park where mosquitoes buzz around 

Your ankles, watch her smile at customers and brush her
Short brown hair behind her ears. 

And I worry about her lack of worry, 
And I wonder why I still believe her when she says
I promise I’m fine.

Elizabeth Corallo is an emerging writer and student who concentrates on poetry, book reviews, and fiction, with poetry in The Global Youth Review fiction in Body Without Organs, and articles on Movement Genius and JuvenPress. She currently runs a book review blog called the SeaglassBookNook, serves as the Co-Summer Programs Director of The Young Writer’s Initiative, and is a journalist for EntrepreYOUership. Her Instagram/Twitter is @lizziclesmb702.