When it was freezing they still sent us out.
And we stood pathetically on the asphalt by the
monkey bars and the tractor tires, five or six of us girls
with the plush of our coats pressed together—
a giant blob of disinterested chilliness.
Foreheads against foreheads,
communal breath.
And we whined in shrill voices how inhumane it was
for them to send us out.

But even in the hot months—
no air conditioning indoors and
fat young thighs sticking to plastic chairs—
we still longed for touch, it seemed,
and at recess we sat in a circle of swings
and we would swing as high as we could
and try to meet in the middle of the air,
stretching our legs towards one another until,
nearly vertical, we almost
slid backward off of the seats,
and we would try to tap sneakers
against one another’s sneakers
and when you did it
—well, you couldn’t always time it perfectly
—but when you could,
you felt connected,
touching nothing
and touched by nothing
but each other and the air.

Dev Murphy’s writing and illustrations have been featured in The Cincinnati Review, Diagram, Shenandoah, The Rupture, ANMLY, Pithead Chapel, and elsewhere. Her chapbook I’m not I’m not I’m not a baby, a collection of poems, essays, and abstract comics, is forthcoming from Ethel in 2023. You can find her on social media @gytrashh or at devmurphy.club. She lives in Pittsburgh with her cat, Nick.

This poem previously appeared in Persephone’s Daughters.

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