Youth is not the water spilled from your mother
or the gentle lapping of a rising tide.
Youth is the melted snow of Appalachia
trickling down through Eden’s mossy roots
onto the unrelenting, jagged cliff face.
Youth is beaten about boulders
and poured down ravines.
Youth is choking on the water you didn’t ask for
out of your lungs and onto your bib
or graduation cap
and weeping because yours was not
the river that cut this path
and gravity doesn’t ask for consent.
Youth is mourning the loss of your
leaves or dirt or microbes.
Youth is leaving your flesh behind
on the boulders
you thought would lend you respite
and pouring blood into water
so diluted, pink has become
the color of anguish.