/s moore wagner

Pre-Heroin

My sister and I follow the wood planks of the railroad tracks downtown. We bought a box of crimson Manic Panic, split two ways, bright red like Tori Amos; shirts tied up, tan bellies—It’s a scorcher. The woods mirage. Dirt beneath sweat, unrinsed dye rivulets our faces. I say how much this means to me, to be here with her, walking this path alone to the fair, where I won’t have any money but I’ll bat my done-up eyelashes at boys until they buy me all the different colors of licorice and enough tickets to ride the Ferris wheel with each one, my backseat sticking to the vinyl.

Every boy has wet hands that soak the baby hairs on my thigh. I’m sunburnt. It hurts to be touched, but I keep going, around and around until night comes and they turn on all those green lights. The rides look like their own city: incandescent. I could be under the sea or on the moon—full of sugar and sun—The breeze just feels so good. My sister doesn’t want to ever go home. No one is looking for us yet. It ain’t time.

We squeeze into a little photobooth with the last of our change. Later, I think that picture was so beautiful, how everything matched then, our sweaty white tees, red faces, splotchy orange-ing hair. How much power we had that night. Just enough to be taken away.


Sara Moore Wagner lives in West Chester, OH with her husband and three small children. She is the recipient of a 2019 Sustainable Arts Foundation award, and the author of the chapbook Hooked Through (Five Oaks Press, 2017). Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in many journals including Poet Lore, Waxwing, The Cincinnati Review, and Nimrod, among others. She has been nominated multiple times for the Pushcart prize, and Best of the Net. Find her at www.saramoorewagner.com.

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