Once a neighbor boy unzipped his pants at me
in the woods. We were twelve or eight or who knows
how old, but his body became my first secret.
Most evenings after dusk I’d tiptoe in rubber boots
and nightgown to the pond to catch bullfrogs
along the overgrown edge. They croaked like busybodies
with scandalous news. And when my light revealed
their slick spotted bodies, they leapt once and giantly
into water. Their pond gossip ferried me all night
across my dreams. I do not have many confessions.
All my unspoken words a pile of gneiss rocks
in my lungs, and I enjoy knowing they are there.
But what to say if the words were choked
up? His prepubescent penis too common to the body
to be a secret. What hiddenness then remains
behind the mouth, in the mind, in the unnamable guilt
of exposure? Do you want to see something, he felt
the privacy form in his mouth, his sweaty forehead
shimmering in midday like a promise.
His name has escaped me, though his laughter
set fire to the woods around us as he ran for his yard,
leaving me to look unflinchingly at the blaze.
Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 20, Issue 2.
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