To a New (England) Woman

Poem and Illustration by Lennie Newman

Pour a glass
and toast to our youth.

A glass for the years of desperate sisterhood,
helpless romance and endless love,
twilight epiphanies,
the downward scrape to the bone,
gleeful stamping on
the grapes of our wrath.

A glass
to celebrate the infamous,
the tortuous.

Remember the tremendous heat
of running naked through the fields at dusk.
We found shelter in the clipped woods,
mesmerized by our skin,
the hollows of our armpits,
the shapes of our breasts.

Remember Paris—
a cafe tucked in a teeming square,
where a girl brimming with lust
crushed three pills with the back of her spoon.

The world was impossibly clear.
We ran through parks,
carpeted corridors,
Spanish churches,

slamming doors,
the tips of our fingers
screaming for help.
We plunged deep into love
with boys who hid behind jerseys and foul mouths.

Evening strolls before curfew
bred the wild creatures of the night,
stifled moans from the depths of bushes
pulsing with heat.

Steeped in wretched glory,
we lost our minds and our bodies.
They splintered
into page numbers, sweat,
magna cum laude.

Raise your glasses. Smell the elixir
of our past, as we now decipher the
nose, note, flavor,

Raise them higher.

Wink with the wobbling of the flesh under your arms,
lick the razor’s edge of the gold sunk at the knuckle.

Now, friends,
vestiges of a thousand futures
shimmering with the gravity of success,
let us toast these seasons of divine youth,
let us drown our tongues.