Nancy Reddy

The Thibodeaux Girls

The girls wanted heat on them.

Nights they snuck off the sleeping porch,
their hair wild with humidity, their legs
downy & freckled. Their tongues

were still sweet from the cow corn
they’d stripped from the far field after dinner.

One-handed, they lifted their nightdresses above their heads
& swung them across the clothesline by the quilts.

The white cloth flapped & the girls lay naked,
the dewy lawn blading them,
as they dared themselves to stay,

still as Sunday dinner. Some nights
the kittens followed & curled
their soft & fine-boned bodies

against the sisters’ newly girlish ones
marked by aches & peaks. One girl

grew faster than the others & wore her hair
in a braid that bounced against her spine.

When her blood first came
she slept the way her mother taught her,

curtains drawn & swamp teeth beneath her pillow.

She dreamed her one true love & saw him
only from the back.

Nancy Reddy’s work has appeared in Smartish Pace, Anti-, Memorious, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she is currently a doctoral candidate in composition and rhetoric.