Alligator Fight

by Ariel Herbert

We were the kind of girls
that brought a bat to prom,
smoked cigarettes in the parking lot,
sequined party dresses cut
above the knee, trim calves bursting
from black heels, curls falling
flat in the humidity,
the kind of girls that shotgunned beers,
belched reapplying our lipstick,
popped in a peppermint to walk
past the vice principal and into the disco lights,
hungry for music, to move our bodies
on a dark dance floor until we felt
something, anything, less alone.
Maybe it was the heat that made us
crazy, girls with sharp tongues,
skin thick as dragon scales,
and though I don’t remember ever starting a fight,
we sure as hell finished a few of them,
at an afterparty, in someone’s backyard,
some wild thing coming at us with the broken neck
of a beer bottle, painted lips open, hissing
about territory or cheating girlfriends.
Or the blackout rage of some dude pissing
where he shouldn’t, and putting his hands up,
bowing out of the scene, only after one of us flashed
a blade and a smile like we meant it.
We were some kind of royalty, girls
who held court in the open, trial 
by combat. It didn’t always matter
who was right, only who won,
even if it was our own 
blood streaked on the grass,
a few teeth in the mud.

Arielle Hebert is a queer poet based in Durham, NC. She holds an MFA in poetry from North Carolina State University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Great River Review, Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry, and Willow Springs,among others. She was a finalist for the 2021 Pink Poetry Prize, and won the 2020 Claire Keyes Poetry Award judged by Erika Meitner and the 2019 North Carolina State University poetry contest judged by Ada Limón. Arielle believes in ghosts and magic. www.ariellehebert.com

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