The unlinked cuffs of my father’s
starched white sleeves roll
up boy-thin sunburned arms.
I skip along and drag his tails behind,
sanding his shirt in shore foam
shimmer, Ocean City flecks of mica.
Our smell is tee shirt need and sweat –
a tuxedoed boy rips pearled stud buttons
from the stiff placket of my shirt.
Black silk bowtie, undone around my neck –
I squeeze the wiry ginger of his crotch as he floats
kisses in the dip behind my collarbone.
The rain spits my shirt to bare pink skin.
Beads of water tremble our favorite flowers.
I run a graveyard lawn as cold mist rises
from the grass and through my veins.
I tear the proper cotton from my chest,
press my solitary body to mossed stone.
Tomorrow, I will button a white shirt.
It will hang on bone, slope with shoulder,
hold its form. I will not roll French cuffs
to my bicep, or dance with shirttails through sand,
or sniff for kisses beneath my collar, or run
in rain, or scout a shirtless figure in the haze.
First publication: Eunoia Review, 2016
The poet's parents, Mary Lou and Wilson, Annapolis, c.1957.