by Kieron Walquist

after Ocean Vuong

I’m a buzz cut & braces, scarecrow-thin, ready for
my friend’s P90X video to show me a hunger
worth wearing. Shirts off, we drink protein—which is

a papier-mâché paste—& pump dumbbells to
get ripped in 90 days! In his close basement, we give

each other grief—no, like this—& perfect the
form, the rep, by shadowing the TV. His body
brushes mine after we try pushups. It’s not what

I was expecting—firm but I could fall into it,
like a mattress. Sorry, I say, & hope he knows

our chest bump means nothing. (It does.) He laughs about it
& dries off—rubs at his neck, back. In the mirror, we cannot
help but flex. & there, he hands me his towel—wet—to keep.

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 22, Issue 1.

Kieron Walquist lives in Missouri. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Arts & Letters, Daily Science Fiction, fresh.ink, Gingerbread House, Gulf Coast, Sigma Tau Delta Rectangle, and X-R-A-Y, among others. He plans to study creative writing at WASHU’s MFA program in the fall of ’20.

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