Tommy's on the rowing machine.
He pulls back and skids forward.
"Not so good," he says, "I'm older;
there's the guilt."
Meryl took me to meet him and Joe,
his lover. I wore a grey knit mini-skirt,
grey tights and blue suede boots.
I'd never been kissed by a woman before.
Face down between her legs, who was I?
His biceps fresh from the tanning salon,
gloved, he bends over, squirting liquids.
Dribbling teas make my hair change color:
peach to honey, caramel; once it was pale butter.
He pinned my hair in configurations
that made men stare. Our roots
are the same color. "Even I," he says,
"slept with women."
Seth was here in December.
Traced my eyebrows, outlined my lips
with his finger. I lay with my head
in his lap for an hour. I'm teaching Berger's
chapter on the nude. My throat
constricts in the shower; I blink
back tears in the sauna.
I buy yellow chocolate ducks, cozy,
in their nest of shredded paper.
Inside its sugar, dome another duck
cruises a green wave's squiggle.
Hard pink icing encircles the aperture.
On top: a pressed blue rosette.
On my parents' bed, we picked, from green
grass cellophane, yellow marshmallow chicks.
I dream I pull a baby's carriage,
pillows in the bottom rack. Each one
is an alphabet block, embroidered
with letters: "a," "p," "e."
I turn the last one over,
the "r," a secret no one has seen.
Mornings I check the mirror to see
if my breasts no one's touched since December
have tilted lower. In Joe's photographs,
little chinese spirits, skirted like Casper,
tinted, superimposed, flock in cherub formation
at a mustached man's shoulder.
A couple argues on a couch, a smoke
genie interposed. Where Tommy lounges,
little ones, fork-tongued,
carry gold gilt pitchforks.
Last week he cut my bangs,
showed me a photo of his 20 year old. Today he
and the black-haired kouros sauntered past me.
Ingres' is the nude I cannot
forget: her back a smooth white terrain.
I once held an ivory tusk.
So heavy, so small, to kill
the rest of the elephant for.
Demons, that painters make cupids,
turn me, spin me. Tommy and I
lift every mask at the ball
seeking the boy with a bow.
We offer our little hearts boxed up.