On Saturdays I drank pilfered liquor,
kissed boys in backseats, in basements
where the parents were always
out of town. Spent Sundays
penitent at mass. The slender
marble aisle. The cracked leather kneeler.
The congregation sitting and standing,
kneeling and sitting in a stuttering unison
as I replayed the rhythm
of hand on—, tongue on—,
my prayer-bent body arched
with aimless lust. I knew.
I had learned in church: to be bodied
was to be sinful. I gave up milk,
gave up spoons, shaved the thumbnail
down to meet its fleshy bed.
Gave up chicken and carved each night
the pan-fried meat from thigh-bone,
fork-stabbed the knobby joints. Wished myself
up out of my limbs and aches.
Watched my hipbones rising
like the crescent moon. But if this
was wrong, why had they made
Christ’s body so beautiful?
He hung there,
an object lesson in desire
and its aftermath. I listened.
Christ said, put your hand here.
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