The Mystery of the World
At age 10 my legs took up most of my body,
rollerskate-skinny legs, bruised and scabbed.
My long hair knotted in the bicycle breeze,
my wild eyes watered in the wind.
Summers we'd go Dumpster diving
in the apartment complex that failed
to substitute for the old house. Our treasures
included maggoty food, medical supplies,
and a cracked leather suitcase filled with porn.
We hid the stacks of magazines in foreign woods.
I lived in a girlbody, useful for climbing
trees or swinging a long leg over and into a Dumpster.
The naked pictures did and did not stun me. Daily,
the mysterious world alluded to my exclusion.
Closed doors, hushed voices, channels quickly flipped.
We gaped at the glossy pages of splayed women,
knowing this was Inappropriate, thus thrilling.
The teenage Saudi boys next door found
the stash. We waged war of ownership
for marked and unlucky goods. Face off: me
with hands on hips straight as a diving board,
my mouth a resolute line. The exchange of terrible
words, quickly forgotten in the amnesia of survival
and temporary housing: moving trucks, disappearing
acts, people I would never see again.
Oh, you. By which I mean to say, me. I want to wean
you off this world. The shock and repeated hurt of it.
Years spent looking into the wrong kind
of mirror, mind inside its inconsistent cage.
Listen, Dumpster treasure: climb
out. Dust your limbs, streak the grime.
Carry this cracked suitcase of a life
to lost streets and codeless cities,
where unintelligible people murmur and stare.
Watch; be watched. Like most things,
little tomboy, it goes both ways. No matter
whose gaze, the mystery is you.
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