Voyages from I to Thou.

Location: Skellig Michel, Ireland

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The Bra in the Tree (2003)

One altar of my
longing is that
southern oak
which spread in
the courtyard of
Dennison Junior
High. The locus
of my waking was
Winter Haven
in 1970:
thirty three years
ago and some fifty
miles from here
where southern
oaks line all the
streets, outliving
every high and low
I’ve found in
in this dazzled
drenched state
of Florida. We’d sit
on concrete benches
beneath its arms
on hot September
mornings, waiting
for that school
to mouth our bodies
for the day.
It was my first
semester of ninth
grade at a new school,
a fat Yankee kid
flung from Chicago
‘burbs into a
Southern welter
of impossible
desires. Over the
summer, sun,
citrus, storm and
pool hatched my
glands in a glittery,
gritty wave of lusts;
now desire ferried
me into that
collective maul
of public school.
I was both terrified
and enthralled to sit
on those hard
benches afar from
all, watching the
black boys race
past like windy blades
and revel in girls
all taller by half a
head, their hair
and brushed sleek in
manes of silken fire.
Oh and how their
bodies were all filling
up with fruit and
what infernal juice!
Those days of
early puberty’s shock
and thunder I thought
I had been pitched
into some mouth
of Hell, all knuckle,
tooth and boob.
How could I know
that those waters
sprung from below and
within: that the sap
of my own dark
regions sprouting
pale fur on my
lip and groin
& leaking semen
in the sheets
almost every night
was causing me to
only see sex and
more sex in every
day? Each
morning I much less
woke than surfaced
from a lake of fire,
dragging from bed
to shower
and breakfast
table in a glaze
of all I dreamed
of the night before.
As I walked to
the bus-stop some
mist of storm still
shrouded the orange
grove just beyond
our house, the light
labial and moist,
the shadows of
the other kids
forked by imps
they each had dreamed.
As the bus wended
into town past
orange groves and
cow pastures blue
green and stunned
in first light,
dirty jokes passed
around the dark green
seats like sacred pipes
glowing in our ears --
Do ya know why
Doctor Pepper comes
in a bottle? Because
his wife died! The
boys would roar
with glee, while the
girls just sighed
and stared further
out the windows,
surely looking for
those older, taller,
cooler, more mature
boys. While I sat
there, stony, not
joining in either way,
but loving all
the talk in my secret,
greedy way, the way
lust divides a boy in
two, worshipping those
divinely pretty faces
in the seats ahead,
sacrificing my mother
and sister and every
other righteous
love with a red
hardon for the
pale blue panties
which crooned
in wet darks below.
One day we pulled
up at the school and
piled out to see
a huge bra hanging
from a middle limb
of that oak tree,
bright white
amid the clumps
of ant moss, the
cups huge and
rude. My eyes
mouth and hands
all startled reflexively
at the size
of the breasts those
cups suggested,
nailing me suddenly
to an immortal
tree of my own --
just another boy
lost forever in a
boat of bone on
seas he’ll never cross,
much less beach.
I must have stared
slack-jawed at that
foolish thing ‘till the
first bell rang, as
entranced by the
startling white
fullness of it as by
the question of just
how it got up there --
my mind playing
reel after reel of
seduction at night
beneath that tree,
harvest moon
cupping above
the kiss, emboldened
reaching, the unclasp
and what all sprang
gree, a whoop of
joy sending that bra
up high to altar
the next day in my
eye. Of course the
wiser guess is that
some dweeb stole his
sister’s or mother’s
bra from where it
hung in the shower,
throwing it up the
tree on a dare; yet
in my diddler’s
cathedral someone
and someone else
is always paired,
eternally on fire,
releasing joy in
rhythm with my
every stroke, a relic
of a lost age
which never freed
for me (or her)
its rude so brilliant yoke.


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