(This is such a long poem; I feel guilty for writing such a long poem, forcing i ton you)
July, Then Before
Your dark straight hair like some kind of expensive silk skin I wanted to stick my fist through. That Neil Diamond song we practiced all year in the 8th grade out on the front lawn. The album playing in your bedroom. Singing it to each other in the bathroom stalls. How you cried under the redwoods in the national park, worried the raccoons would bite your toes if you slept. How your sleeping bag swarmed with red spiders in the morning. I wanted to show you how to masturbate: I had read about it in my mother’s medical textbook. I wouldn’t let you share my sleeping bag, I wouldn’t let you borrow my bikini. How you told me not to tell anyone else. I'm not the pig you think I am. I'm not the dog you think I am. I 'm not the person you think you are. Can we try this again?
How you were still crying at the breakfast fire, around the burnt sausage in your mouth. Shaken cans of 7-up exploding on our t-shirts, hot dogs with stripes like prison pajamas. We sang in harmony with the record, sometimes you went a few notes higher for contrast. Peanuts made you go to the hospital, boys pretended to like you during recess and made you cry after school. How Billy, the counselor with the scarred lip, told you his dad did it. How you hated your white fat face. You kept saying that, I hate my fat face, when we'd look in bathroom mirrors. Almost matching floor length blue dresses, with transparent flowered sleeves, for the graduation song. Holding hands during the song, the sun so strong I closed my eyes. As you got hot, you smelled more and more of lemon and old tires. How you were better than me at math, how your painted horses always had an alien gleam. Your hairspray made me sneeze. The song had the word blue over and over. Do you really think you’re an animal? one boy asked before he hit you on the back of the head, made you fall to the lawn. You apologized for running over my yellow lab with your bike; I never said anything about pissing on your toothbrush. We sat cross-legged on the front lawn, chewing grass blades, the fat, white, tender part. I’m sorry your parents pretended to love you. I poured all your change down the latrine. Then I kissed your sleeping hand and, for hours, waved the swarming summer bees away from your face. How I bit your arm once, right after a mosquito, to see what it would taste like. Let me tell you about that summer camp.