Milo Muise

the time of life in which the two sexes begin first to be acquainted – [Johnson], late 14c.

i don’t tell my mom
when i get my period
start shaving grow
in those small, guilty
and meaningful ways
when my body sends
its signals who knew
we were supposed to bond
over these embarrassing
secrets and the books
about being a flower blooming
on his kitchen table my dad
keeps dried dead roses
in bowls of water
if I have to be a flower
i’ll be one of those
the only boy to tell me
he loved me
loved sports and classic rock
we danced to one-third
of “stairway to heaven”
in the jr. high cafeteria
under a busted disco ball
surrounded by vending machines
he didn’t know how to love me
in public i’m quiet
bad hair big clothes
he gave me a tour of his house
when his parents weren’t home
we hugged in the living room
with the cooking channel muted
teaching us how
to make donuts
i cut myself
after my shower
in the steam
of the bathroom
the mirror
fogged my body
a white blur still-
damp grass
in the morning
before the sun i drag
the blade light
over my shoulder
feeling the marks
i haven’t made
yet a moment of ritual
and then i begin
my father needs me
to go through the women’s
locker room we are going swimming
it is my only way
to the pool i am old enough
to go alone will i
get lost wind up
in the wrong place am i
already there
what did it feel like
crowded with women
which door will take me
where I need to go
everyone is naked do i know
what my body is planning
parts of me waiting
to grow women
wring out their hair choke
the water onto the floor
while i slip my backpack
into the locker everything sharp
and chlorine my father
is waiting probably
already swimming
easy strokes
 in p-town with a friend and a drag
queen i am thirteen torn fish-
nets black converse a fluorescent skirt
she is done up beautiful with her arm
around my friend i am on the edge
of the scene, something there
i couldn’t touch, an orbit
i wasn’t able to enter
one year of he
and i still don’t know
who they’re talking about
imagine the man
they think i am
years of high school
soccer and girlfriends
not everything is different
between us but his body
angles sharp and i want
to feel myself in it
at ten AM the light is soft
through the trees
and i am in bed
jacking off becoming him
hardening myself into pleasure