The New Young American Poets: An Anthology

By Kevin Prufer | Go to book overview

James Harms

My Androgynous Years

I had a crisis at the supermarket, yesterday.
I said to myself softly, so no one could hear,
I said, Your soul is not stepping
from your body. I said, Stop it, relax.
And I did. I held it all together
past the magazines and gum,
through 8-Items-or-Less and out the door.
I sat in my car and let mascara
run down my arms like greasy rain.
Until a woman in a Volvo beeped
and pointed at the asphalt under me,
unwilling, I guess, to wait any longer.
When I was eight my sister hated me.
She hated clothes and make-up.
She hated buckled shoes.
We'd walk Vermilion Street beneath
the insect sizzle of neon
to buy my mother cigarettes,
loiter like felons till
all seemed clear in Lee's Liquor-Mart.
I'd ask Peter Lee where the Cokes had gone,
and he'd come around to help me look
while my sister snaked her hand to a packet
of Pall Malls and was gone. On the way home,
sometimes, she ran ahead, easy over long legs.
She'd find a crumbling vestibule
to soothe her shadow down to stone
and time my slow arrival.
We'd sit near a puddle of ragwater
or piss, her laughter a hand against
my neck, and wait for my sobs to soften.
I share my lunch today with a boy from
Peru, Indiana. He recites King's
"I Have a Dream" speech,

-66-

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