boyhood poem 

after karate i took cold showers
& the tributaries wreathed my body 
in fresh cool halos.
naked skin. fourteen.
hair flowering
across my thighs. it takes so long
to become human. all the days 
of rummaging in cabinets 
for your father's dull razors.
all the afternoons spent 
in the backyard 
gazing at yellow jackets
as they waltz in pairs. in april
everything was sick with love.
i had a crush on a boy 
at karate with 
thick eyebrows & short short hair.
in the shower, i thought about
his skin 
& wondered if he really
took cold showers like he said
or if, like me, he reached
for the knob 
& relieved his body
with a burst of fresh hot water.
closing my eyes in the downpour
i wished real rain 
was this warm
leaving parking lots vibrating
with steam. i took 
a horse-stance
to inspect my leg muscles.
this is what i look like
underneath the uniform as i posed.
everyone's muscles
in our class concealed
by our black uniforms.
did they think about their bodies
like i considered mine? peering into
every little corner? 
were my fears ordinary? my desire
to touch that boy's skin in the rain?
to feel to slick & soft?
i bow & the water 
spills down my back.
the bath tub is gunky 
with soap grime. smells like
left over bubble bath
& head & shoulders shampoo. 
i face the shower one more time
before i wrap myself 
in a scratchy beach towel
dangling inches away 
from the bath. water coats 
my skin. a twinge of cold
before i go get dressed.

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