"Seventeen and Stopped" by Jaimee Boake


at 17 I realized that

being in over my head felt the same as sweat-sticky bare skin

on leather seats, fumbling, awkward -

hot-breathed I love you in my ear turned shiver

the sound of fear grew familiar

3 a.m. phone ringing and heart pounding where are you

headlights searching for signs of life in silent dark

the choked out I can’t live without you between sips of that Molotov cocktail:

whiskey-soaked kisses and tears

I learned that guilt

weighed the same as a high school boyfriend after

the thousandth it’s over, five unanswered calls

siren wails mixing with your mother’s and the

could I have saved you if I stayed?

now, seventeen and stopped

by the train tracks outside our tiny town

catching glimpses of sky in spaces between cars

their rumble rattles up my spine,

roars in the back of my throat

the train, ribboning across the prairie

beyond the blurred edge of familiar,

stretches forever

we used to love when a train gave us reason to park, now

I wonder how much time I’ve wasted

waiting in this spot, if I’ll ever leave this place

in answer it sque a l s to

a painstaking s t o p

windows down, ignition off,

sweat snaking down my back

I sit in that same beat up Pontiac Sunfire where you first kissed me

in the heavy stillness of summer//heat hazy graffitti//grasshopper hum

steel glints in the sun

seventeen and stopped

by the train tracks outside our tiny town

but mostly by the shame I feel

knowing why you picked this spot,

knowing it will eventually travel further down the line

while you wait here forever,

seventeen and stopped.


Jaimee Boake (she/her) is a high school English Language Arts, Creative Writing, and Leadership Teacher in Sherwood Park, Alberta, Treaty 6 Territory. She loves reading, writing, spending time with her dogs, and is happiest, always, in the mountains. A recipient of the Martin Godfrey Award for Young Writers, she is very fortunate to have her work published in various magazines and anthologies, including a few upcoming. You can read more on Instagram @jaimeeannethology.

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