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.
Star in the Throat, Fire in the Cupboard
When I was young, I hid under the porch with a star in my throat. When I got a little older, my mother opened the cupboard to let the fire out. I should’ve known the cliffs meant a coming blankness. We should’ve noticed the competition growing deadly between the masts and the trees. The problem wasn’t the lateness of our parties but what we used for wood to keep them lit. What is it people say—take my arm and walk with me along the shore for a minute? My mother, bless her, is a speck of color in the flush of a great cheek. I’ve come to ask you to consider praying for that giant child. Remember when we began to forget the babies once we tossed them in the air? First it was the completion of those simple gestures, but then entire sections of the story went missing. In our lips we could feel the slight buzz of the edge where the cut was made. We crawled in and out of those holes wearing different faces. I believe the stories got wet and began to bleed together. I believe we built the sides of the town too high and the events kept rolling back. I didn’t know that the water was going to keep rising as well, but if you have any say in the matter, while the boats go down, I’d like to be on a ladder, peeking into a loft made narcotic with children, a dead pool with rolling, living waves. If possible, I’d like the water to douse the match that’s growing out of the bones of my hand.