1 Thank god he stuck his tongue out. When I was twelve I was in danger of taking my body seriously. I thought the ache in my nipple was priceless. I thought I should stay very still and compare it to a button, a china saucer, a flash in a car side-mirror, so I could name the ache either big or little, then keep it forever. He blew no one a kiss, then turned into a maw. After I saw him, when a wish moved in my pants. I nurtured it. I stalked around my room kicking my feet up just like him, making a big deal of my lips. I was my own big boy. I wouldn't admit it then, but be definitely cocks his hip as if he is his own little girl. 2 People ask me--I make up interviews while I brush my teeth--"So, what do you remember best about your childhood?" I say mostly the drive toward Chicago. Feeling as if I'm being slowly pressed against the skyline. Hoping to break a window. Mostly quick handfuls of boys' skin. Summer twilights that took forever to get rid of. Mostly Mick Jagger. 3 How do I explain my hungry stare? My Friday night spent changing clothes? My love for travel? I rewind the way he says "now" with so much roof of the mouth. I rewind until I get a clear image of myself: I'm telling the joke he taught me about my body. My mouth is stretched open so I don't laugh. My hands are pretending to have just discovered my own face. My name is written out in metal studs across my little pink jumper. I've got a mirror and a good idea of the way I want my face to look. When I glance sideways my smile should twitch as if a funny picture of me is taped up inside the corner of my eye. A picture where my hair is combed over each shoulder, my breasts are well-supported, and my teeth barely show. A picture where I'm trying hard to say "beautiful." He always says "This is my skinny rib cage, my one, two chest hairs." That's all he ever says. Think of a bird with no feathers or think of a hundred lips bruising every inch of his skin. There are no pictures of him hoping he said the right thing.
Don’t worry. One kills in dreams
but wakes having not killed.
Having not killed is part of waking. Some mornings, though,
you lay there pinned under layers of light, fear,
and woolen blankets.
You know what’s right and what’s wrong,
what you don’t know is what happened
and if you were actually there.
That’s why dreams of digging a deep hole with a stolen shovel
are so confusing. That’s why you expect to jerk awake
when you stand in a pile of dry brush
holding a lit match in your hand.
The best thing to do, always,
is get up and walk down the stairs.
Wait awhile in the kitchen, it doesn’t matter whose kitchen,
and let the house absorb the blame.
That’s what a house is for.
You aren’t screaming,
because you’re always wrong,
even while you sit on the ground before daybreak waiting
for enough light to gather sticks.
You don’t know yet what a stick is.
You can’t be expected to remember anything
once you’ve seen the sun rise.
All day long, you walk back and forth through the field,
standing guard over what didn’t happen
to keep it from mixing with what did.
You didn’t shoot the gun, you just listened well
when people talked about how to do it.
You didn’t walk unscathed through the fire,
you walked unscathed over it.
You happened to find a narrow bridge.
You wouldn’t purposely hurt anyone,
but keep describing all the ways that you would.
List all the things that never happened,
and see if you can suck clean the edges of what did.