Cracking the Fountainhead: A Pantown

by Abbey Schlanz (Univ. of Mount Union)

Third Place

Remember when we used to collect bottle caps?

Budweiser, Miller Lite, Mike’s Hard Lemonade

lining our grimy pockets with drops of alcohol

that soon would crust our lips and fingernails, the same

 

Budweiser, Miller Lite, Mike’s Hard Lemonade—

drinks that carried our bodies into ratty beds of strangers

who would soon crust our lips and fingernails with the same

regret that girls have swallowed for centuries while vomiting away

 

the drinks that carried their bodies into ratty beds of strangers

whose fingers lingered over sweat-sticky skin and filled them

with the regret that girls have swallowed for centuries while vomiting away

the memories of eyes and tongues and sandpaper hands

 

whose fingers lingered over sweat-sticky skin and filled it

with the red of shame that rose to the cheeks at

the memories of eyes and tongues and sandpaper hands.

Why should we be the only ones to stand

 

under the red of shame that rises to the cheeks?

Our bodies curve because they know the weight

of being the only ones to stand

beneath the hills of water and clay.

 

Yes, our bodies curve because they know the weight

of timpani hearts beaten by mallet fists

beneath the hills of water and clay

that drown our voices. Still, our

 

timpani hearts beaten by mallet fists

crack the fountainhead

that drowns our voices; a still hour

passes under the waxing moon.

 

We crack the fountainhead,

washing our lips and fingernails under the stream that

passes under the waxing moon.

While laughing and flicking away sandpaper hands, we keep

 

washing our lips and fingernails under the stream that

remembers when we used to collect bottle caps.

While laughing and flicking away sandpaper hands, we keep

lining our grimy pockets with drops of alcohol.