In kindergarten, I sketched a vagina as a circle
lost in strands of hair, similar to a scribbled sun.
The inklings of want would soon
set sail. When I showed the drawing
to my mother, she somehow knew what it was.
Her suspicious eye taught me life is the pursuit
of the scribbled sun. The first time I drove a car alone,
zooming up the hill toward the highway, I took pictures
of the sunset without watching the road, as if heaven
could be captured with my own fingers. At sixteen
I stole Snickers bars at my first job. The dollar store
went under. It could have been worse. I told the priest
maybe God thinks I touch myself improperly.
He said to toss the dirty magazines, meaning
I didn’t change a thing. In marching band, I pressed
my mouth against the trombone’s silver mouthpiece
and kissed when I blew, spit coursing through the instrument’s body
until it dripped onto the checkered floor. I didn’t lose my virginity
too early. By then it was too late. I have seen the L.A. River
rub itself dry beneath the metal bridges, withered and silent,
while the ocean wets perpetual sand, and all I could do
was run my fingers through the tide’s receding hair.
In seventh grade the school librarian declared if anyone
in class could finish A Tale of Two Cities, it was me.
I did not finish. I was twelve and mastering arousal,
turning pages with fingers on thighs inside of skirts,
skulking my hand up to God, to the first time
I knew sanctity– and the feeling, unlike faith,
was enough to make me believe.
(originally published in Corium Magazine, Spring 2016)