by Ben Togut
Nominated for 2021 Best of the Net
I excise the man like a thorn
from my body—a fantasy.
Nothing is clean & surgical
about this. A man caresses me
& again in the dark gasp
of summer I am wingless.
A man caresses me & the poem
rewrites itself. Back in the dorm room,
the boy pushes me against a wall,
my body cello-like against his.
I could tell you all this & more
but what good is in the telling?
The past is an animal with its teeth bared.
I’ll end here: last autumn I laid beneath
a man—his lips clumsy, his breath
ripe with cigarettes—& I did not want
to die. As I slipped from his room
& into the cool air, I couldn’t stop
laughing, my voice a black aria
pealing through the night
a quiet victory.
Explaining the Poem about The Assault to My Mother
Let the curtains be blue,
a cheap veil against the world.
There is no metaphor here,
no hidden meaning unfurling
like a sullen flag in the breeze.
There is no grace in this.
In the room’s dark embrace
only silence—one boy pleading
for the other to open.
Photo from Denali NPS