Teenage – by Steve Barichko

mom says everything
can be a jewel when i ask what
she prays for she says blessings
in disguise jehovah gives you
opportunities in the garden
pick til the bag is full and turn
up the row and pick the other side
call for your brother off racing the train
on foot through the woods and he busts into the clearing
running to me so out of breath it’s like his breaths
don’t count i hold him to me
feeling the deep tin of his gasps
instead of supper in the woods we go hand over hand
after salamanders ducking into mossy tree bark
i ask if he feels the same low pull
from sneaking solomon’s song with me
under the covers at night
tell him jehovah if he exists knows
i’m ruined for prayer because i have no fear
mom says giving up immortality is the sin
together with the punishment
the new boy in our kingdom hall catches river trout
by slipping his hands
shallowly along the body lifting
when it’s still we wade to the shore
while we’re naked mosquitoes bite us

Steve Barichko is a writer from Terryville, CT. His work has most recently appeared in Main Street Rag, fields magazine, and causeway lit. He is working on a forthcoming chapbook. He lives in Terryville with his wife and daughter. He can be found on Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr @stevebarichko.

Art: spring puddles, mixed media collage on 10×8 archival paper, 2018
Artist Statement: The first thing that drew me to this art selection was the jewel tones and the fact that if the teenage years were a season of life, they would most definitely be spring time. I enjoy the way that both the poem and the collage are both made of fragments — cut paper and enjambment.