Allen Forrest  ,  Femme Noir, #14    (ink and watercolor on paper)

Allen Forrest, Femme Noir, #14 (ink and watercolor on paper)

Shimmy Shimmy Ko-Ko Bop
Shimmy Shimmy Bop

Near the last day of camp
twelve-year-old girls chant from the picnic bench,
others joining in the circle when their mothers
wearing high heels drop them off,
barely stopping before
the princess-wave goodbye.

Shimmy Shimmy Ko-Ko Bop
The girls are learning to say fuck-me heels
through giggles,
arching their feet and eyebrows.
Shimmy Shimmy Ko-Ko Bop
Lips purse into a push of air on the p.
They slap themselves and each other silly
in the rhyme game, words altered.
Shimmy Shimmy Cocoa Pop
Shimmy Shimmy Cocoa Pop

They bump each other,
play chicken in the pool, spit.
Down down baby
Down down baby

One girl fake drowns
into a lifeguard’s scream
and they are all banned for an hour.

In the locker room they stand
in front of a mirror like the Rockettes
in a kickline, the tallest in the middle
and the smallest at the end,
into a Hadrian arch.
They suck in their bellies, grow
like in a funhouse mirror.
Skinny Skinny Cocoa Puff
Skinny Skinny Cocoa Puff

Breast pop like Skipper’s
with a twist of her arm
like winding a clock.
Their arms cross over chests
to make an x of the dying.
Sweet, sweet, baby, I’ll never let you go

They shimmy back out into the sun,
squinting at the flash of light
until their eyes readjust
and they find each other again
to make another circle,
shaking their hips.
Ding dong Hot dog
A man turns to his wife,
asking if she could tell any of them apart.
She winces and nods nos back to her book.

Put it all backwards and what do you get?
They sing, clap, and line up again
to collapse like dominoes with the last
days of trust pushing up against each other.


Nicole Greaves