all poems and photographs
© by Maya Stein

all poems and photographs
© by Maya Stein
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Monday, February 13, 2006

the C word


















in 4th grade, at the movies with Warren Findley
not quite watching Return of the Jedi and volleying,
instead, with the popcorn on his lap
and the Sour Patch kids on mine,
we did, for a brief, timidly sexual moment,
ignore the treasure of our snacks for the
blind, clumsy opportunity
to hold hands.

i remember thinking his fingers were warm,
too warm, not exactly the kind I wanted to rub my fingers against,
the warmth only pre-teen boys could have,
a damp, conspicuous warmth,
an ambitious, mismanaged warmth,
warmth that wanted too much too soon,
the prelude to a heat that could seal you off,
cut out your air supply, leave you oxygen-less.

and just as Darth Vader, unmasked, began his gasping decline,
exposed to an atmosphere he couldn't breathe in to survive,
i, too, felt my body morph into a molecule edema,
swelling past its limit, losing its crucial tether to my seat.

and because i couldn't bear to float that far away,
and because I was 10 and not used to any of this,
i had no choice but to drop the whole of Warren's overheated hands,
covering my tracks with a feigned attempt
to pluck the choice Sour Patch colors from the box,
rub my own over-buttery palms against a fresh napkin.

i realized, even in my nascent adolescence,
how any commitment could feel like
the opposite of simplicity and safety,
and how much it would take to convince me to hang on
even longer.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Perhaps commitment is not something you choose, but something that chooses you.
It doesn't feel like a struggle when it feels right, whether it be at age 10, 30 or 80.
Just a thought.

Tongue in Cheek Antiques said...

When I saw that you wrote the "C" word my first reaction was CANCER! Then I thought, no no no she wouldn't write about cancer on Valentine's day...So I thought Chocolate.
Silly me to think of such a sugary thought!
Committment, AH HA!
I love the way you write, it never disappoints! Perfectly put the 'c' word on a day like today!

Josephine said...

Great post!!
Reading this makes me remember how happy I am to be an adult who is used to the disgusting mess that is it to be human. Happy to be desensitized.

I would never go back to those days and my inability to even be in the same room with a pickle without gagging because the smell was just too strong!!

Great writing ~ Josephine

pinkcoyote said...

i realize that my comments here are usually of a dramatic nature- but MY GOD with good reason! this is so perfect for this day. your words are pure MAGIC, maya. i may start stalking you. i had better say i'm kidding about that....

la vie en rose said...

wow! beautifully brillant revelation.

mikaelah said...

this is such a wonderful poem. It brings back all those memories of being young and the whole clumsiness factor and the fears ... thank you for remembering it all so well... and the owl photo is captivating!

GoGo said...

When I saw the "c" word, the first thing I thought of was Cu$t.

Nice poem. Glad to have come acrossed your page!