Touch, 1992

 

1991 fall photo0001

Sitting on the concrete steps at school

chatting with my girlfriends

suddenly shocked by unknown hands from behind

lovingly caressing my long hair.

Instantly I’m seven again, drowsy with pleasure

from Aunt N’s comb dragging lazily over my scalp

combing my hair through and through

with her adoring, intimate touch.

I close my eyes, indulging for one second

before turning around slowly

to view the perpetrator of this cruel teasing.

In his eyes I see confusion, then fear, then pity

and we both know I am not his girlfriend:

another sophomore with dark, wavy tresses.

I cannot cover my loneliness fast enough

but at least he doesn’t laugh.

He repeats, “I’m so sorry,” just above a whisper

and backs away with faultless palms facing me.

My friends sit respectfully stunned

while I ache with new, inner knowledge—

this is how it feels to be touched by a man.

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