The Boy Next Door


When I was four years old the boy next door

came over to battle with green army men,

or transformers or whichever plastic warrior

of childhood were given to us by parents

whose sole intention was to mold

good strong men of us, but instead

the boy, who was the same age and height as I,

wanted to teach me how people on TV loved,

so he took off his shoes, and I took off my shoes,

and next came all our heavy clothes,

so with nothing but space between us,

we knew this to be a sacred private moment,

so we swung the door’s hook into

the tiny hole, and suddenly we were alone

in the world, and his hand and mine touched

and our lips fumbled together and tongues flopped like

dying fish, until we climbed top bunk, covered our child

figures in sheet, hugged, kissed, mimicked sounds

of soap opera, our only teachers of forbidden touch,

but minutes later we were interrupted by Grendel's

screech and thud against our door, so the boy

and I sat up and held on to one another, searching

for some safety, and watched trembling

as a knife slipped threw the shaft and lifted hook,

so the door flew open, and we jumped off our bunk

and a hand wrapped in leather crashed into my chubby

little thighs and arms, and the boy next door, whose

name I don't remember, was never allowed to

cast an open eye on me again, and later, for the first

time in my life, my own father sat down and taught

me that love could be a sin, or maybe it was my

mother, either way, what I didn't forget was how soft

the boy felt pressed to my chest.


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