The Audition

In this game we confess the things
about ourselves we’ve never told
before: Gary wearing the same shirt
for all four of his high school class pictures,
Jim doing something slightly shady
for the C.I.A. in Nam, Kelly dancing topless
that summer to get through grad school.
I hesitate between the public swimming pool
when I was ten, or sitting on my brother’s face
and breaking his nose, till I remember
Terry Mayo, not only the prettiest girl
in first grade, but maybe ever, so lovely
she was born for Frank Harris, who wore
a coat and tie to school, and, even I could see,
was handsome as a movie star. A little
sheepishly, I decide to scrawl on my scrap
of paper how, for her birthday, I gave her
a brown-plastic-framed picture
of Jesus, knowing my friends will laugh
for years to come. But what they won’t know
is how she suddenly kissed me bang
on the mouth in the middle of the playground
in front of God and everybody, or that, when
Christmas came, it was not me, but Frank, gold
in the robe his mother made, who knelt
in the straw with the sheep, while I stood
next to her, cotton wool on my chin, towel
on my head, and felt with my hand, for a full
ten minutes, her waist, tiny and warm.

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