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Friendship | Kait Quinn - 1st Place Poetry Contest Winner

after Chen Chen


We discard our mermaid tails at thirteen but never stop

meeting in water, hands clasped as we plunge full body

into Barton Spring’s sixty-eight-degree belly. The ferry

in me pulls at the will of your blood moon, brass throat,

four poster bed, still not yet discovered vegan tacos off

an alley in Budapest. I only have legs and just enough

money in my bank account, but I will always come to you.

Meet you half way between Minneapolis and Detroit,

dock in Milwaukee (six hours by Amtrak), stay up late as

my circadian rhythm will allow so you don't have to watch

The Haunting of Hill House alone. Call me Charon. Call this

poem safe passage from asphalt to afterlife. Call me from

immortality, and we'll write that book of poetry and laugh

ourselves giddy over I still love yous and karmic retribution.

I will always find a way to you. That's what friendship is:

I can't drive, but I still find my way to you or you to me or

somewhere in the airwaves, train tracks, Atlantic currents

in between. I kiss a boy until my lips bloom violets, and you

make me over, Thirteen-style—without the fists—to hide it

from my parents. You let me stay the whole weekend. Kolache

breakfasts. Sunday sisters. Your bed, my bed. My chucks,

your chucks. My dad, your dad. Your aunt, my aunt. Trade your

tears for mine. Don't you leave him, Samwise Gamgee. I am not

afraid of the chaos behind your eyes nor do you stick to

the shore of the blue whales bellowing in mine. I take a wound

to the heart, lure you to the deep end. My siren, your selkie.

You jump, I jump. At the apartment complex pool party,

we are a vacuum of giggles—our palms cup to catch pearl

spit from our oyster-pink lips, our chlorine-wet bodies

glisten like seal skin under Texas sun. You are the rocket,

I am the ship, promising one another safe passage through

the brackish, meteorite summer of girlhood.


Kait Quinn (she/her) was born with salt in her wounds. She flushes the sting of living by writing poetry. She is the author of four poetry collections, and her work appears in Reed Magazine, Watershed Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, Slippery Elm, and elsewhere. She received first place in the 2022 John Calvin Rezmerski Memorial Grand Prize. Kait is an Editorial Associate at Yellow Arrow Publishing and a poetry reader for Black Fox Literary Magazine. She enjoys repetition, coffee shops, tattoos, and vegan breakfast. Kait lives in Minneapolis with her partner, their regal cat, and their very polite Aussie mix. Find her at


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