Today's poem is by Chelsea Woodard

Finding the Porn Magazines

The way a twelve-year-old will hide her want
in coded notes and locked boxes, afraid
her brother or her friends might see her secret

parts, her awkwardly scrawled heart inscribed
to Ben or Mike, until she murders its proof
with a lit match, a broom—we stuffed

that January night deep into our jackets
before my father drove us home. The hallway back
is dim and narrow, and you must take care

not to slip on the wet newspapers slicked
to the floor, or the tossed produce crates, the stale-
beer and gum-wrapper sludge smearing the tile.

It was a general store, the owner a tenant
of my father's, and the three of us were at an age
able to wear t-shirts without bras, to prize

field sprints over flattery, to note only in private,
in dismay, the way our stubborn hips
jutted out and our still-flat chests stung

from a foul ball or flailed arm. The bathroom lurked
at the end of the hall, and the men outside talked
as we steered, snow-booted, back. I remember wanting

to look, to peek through cracked doors, to explore
dresser drawers, packed boxes in attics; lifting
my shirt just enough to catch the pink skin's

sharp perk before the porch door slammed.
The magazines had been shoved in a pile
of Boston Globes, and from under the Celtics'

big win stuck a bare thigh, a breast.
Who noticed it first? Which one of us
ruled we would steal? Black shadow exposed,

anemone-like, we thought I'll never
be like tbose
—and took one each, so we
would know. The diesel engine droned

home, glossy pages stuck to my skin.
Like a crush, burning, bares itself, would betray
me that spring in the schoolyard, we stooped

from the car, the magazines hot as ice
in our sweaters while the house leered
at us through the floodlight's beam. Our breath

froze, crystallized what for years we would choke
in our chests, in the dark cracks
and pockets of dreams. My bedroom glowed

lamp-light red, and when my father tells
me this month of the stash they found
at the back of the old store, I feel the plush,

rust-colored carpet pressed up
to my stomach, the hot, prickling rush
that I cannot confess, ashamed still, even now,

to hunch over the bare limbs of the girls
who'll admit themselves just as the butane catches,
and the flame warps their faces to blue, then ash.

Copyright © 2014 Chelsea Woodard All rights reserved
from Vellum
Able Muse Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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