Of Secrets
by Carol Lischau

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.

Carol Lischau received her Master of Arts degree from the University of North Texas Creative Writing program. She was a semifinalist in the 2016 Literary Awards for the Tucson Festival of Books, and her poems have appeared in magazines such as Notre Dame Review, Common Ground Review, and Pulse Magazine. Lischau currently resides in Denton, Texas.

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