I am 14
and suddenly not invisible. I’ve got, not breasts which from my father’s art
books I know
are rationally proportioned, immobile cones and spheres but tits. And my ass,
although I have to
stretch to see it in the mirror (before which I now spend a lot of time), also
seems immense, active. Everything
moves too much. When I walk by men and boys, variations on a theme erupt
I’d like to, pair, that one.
Those wolf-whistle clichés in hard-hats are real; they belong, to each other
and to every street.
I walk to school, and waiting for the light to turn green is not like wishing on a
But I’m not alone
inside my body either, something in me responds, and when we study Pavlov’s
dogs I don’t think
how I click on, how fifteen minutes with the long, hard (no, not dick, although
that comes soon enough)
legs and soft red mouth of (yes, I admit it) the captain of the football team has
become all I care about.
What’s school, parents, friends, when I have this big arm around me, can kiss
until my lips bruise
for company? Everyone grinds to the slow songs, and I’m no exception.
It gets hard
to imagine myself outside of an embrace. I try to remember I’m smart, or as my
parents say, creative,
but under pressure of dry-humped pleas that sound like love (isn’t that what I’m
holding out for?)
I seem to get stuck on pretty. Divided, I learn how to say yes and no at the same
what men accuse women of, the putting off, the indecision, I am guilty. But it
has nothing to do
with what I want, or reverence for a flap of skin I’ve never seen, or fidelity to
God or father, and everything
to do with fear of sex cranked up by the desire to please. Who can blame me for
blowing a little smoke, too?
But it happens anyway.
Time becomes space between being asked, and not being asked scarier than
trust; I can’t see
what I want, and begin to suspect my blindness is made. Because even at 14
I can see,
beside mine and my mother’s, how much heavier and darker are the shadows
my father and brothers
throw. Obedient, hands folded, I mouth: let someone else decide. You’ll never
Be grateful for attention. But don’t stick out too much.
So I keep intact
the way I know: my body runs interference, its steady red pulse flashing the sign
for all-night eats,
while the rest of me imagines myself different: a light overhead, not a fuzzy
that’s dead by the time you see it, but the original, hard-edged nativity type,
pointing the way
to where tangible meets hands-off.