Poetry

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 POETRY

  

   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

   star.

   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

   time. Yes,

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

   finish anything.

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

   twinkle

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.