Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2018  Vol. 17 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
 print preview

Puberty with Self-Portrait as Tiffky Doofky

Just the sound of it, like some fingery
instrument flourishing in a symphony,
like a 16th century woodwind favored
by Corsicans. Or, as a friend says,
not like music at all, more like a dog
being shot into space, poor, lonely,
irretrievable—Dear Boy, buoyant
in the sea of your own biology,
I’m trying. In the naming of metaphor
I’m as lost as you. If it were a film,
Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Apt,
I guess, but almost everyone survives
middle school, just not intact, and after
the larvae hatch beneath your skin,
you learn to live a little more gamey.
I know this comes from the annals
of the dashed and unvarnished,
but if it comforts to have something
to carry you through, I will dumpster-
dive the diner ruin of my pubescence
which handily sounds like has-no-sense.
What’s that? Some knowledge is power.
Some just gross. And the video the nurse
has gathered you discretely together
to watch in a darkened room, the one
requiring my signature, will leave you
dumbstruck as a monk walking
out of a seminary, educed beyond
whatever the mind wanted to hold,
listening so devoutly inside the body’s
tremor and hum he does not hear the dogs
barking at the window, until stepping off
the bus, into the driveway, he awakens
from a sleep that was anything but sleep.
I am sorry to say you will feel like this.
I am sorry I am no fortune-teller,
cast no spell, no armor to dip you in.
I love too much to lie. You will see me,
the garbage collector, riding a tractor
through the village streets, a wagon
the children chase after trying to fill
with the heads of daisies. Confused,
you want to claim me, but the children
sing loudly a song about a goat farmer
who was sacrificed to the god of milk.
You shy your body away and let go.
You want me to wait on the other side,
a river you imagine rising inside.
In the dream you make distance
an offering, and I have made your offering
a house the anarchists burn to a field
of singed and smoldering sugar.
Our clothes, our hair, the sweet smoke
to ward off the dark, to bring luck—
I kiss you on the forehead,
I strike an iron ring with an iron rod,
the clang of language across a field,
the ocean nag of my kisses pulling you back
from wherever your body is taking you.  

return to top