The hot shower felt good.
His thick, wavy, black hair glistened. He almost said
how he felt out loud. But the ten-year-old already
knew that he wasn’t supposed to feel good, or feel,
Beads of water ran down his skinny legs.
As he washed his rear end, he would close his eyes
and wince as though in great pain. This would
become his habit every time he washed.
He stuck out his rear end.
He looked at it in the mirror and thought, “It’s just
like a girl’s. Like Mary’s might have been.”
It would be another forty years before he would
remember that it was the one with the beer gut who
told him that he was a better piece of ass than his
wife. He had also forgotten that the other one with
the hard hands held him while Beer Gut hurt him
over and over. They smelled bad, too.
He dried quickly. Tried not to think.
Tried not to remember the involuntary sensations.
The spasms in his genitals. The distress of pleasure
and numbing pain. Body parts. Bathroom functions.
There were so many taboos.
Mom always showered so fast. In and out of the
bathroom in no time! Like she didn’t want to touch
her own body.
Then he towel dried his hair, brushed it, and combed
it over and over again staring into the mirror. He
only loved his hair. Beautiful hair.
“Would Mary’s hair have been like this, only longer?”
When he looked in the mirror he forgot what he saw.
He forgot that Hard Hands grabbed him by his hair,
hurt his mouth and made him gag, while Beer Gut
hurt him from behind.
He combed some more.
His shoulders were bony. His body was narrow. He
stared at them as he wrapped the white towel
around his body under his armpits like a strapless
Why did he have to be a boy?
He wasn’t good at sports. He’d always mess up.
Kids down the street only let him watch. Maybe he
was more like Mary.
The mirror didn’t speak.
On that day all the little boy’s dreams and painful
memories evaporated like the steam on the mirror.
He moved his shoulder up and down, around
in circles, and stuck out his stomach desperately
trying to feel like a girl, and stared at his twin
in the mirror.
“Mary, it is my fault you died at birth, just like Mom
says.” The poisonous message sunk into his soul.
He wanted to cry, but the boy in mirror didn’t cry.
He wanted to scream, but the boy in the mirror
didn’t scream. The child silently surrendered with a
cry so deep that only an angel could have heard it.
He had to hurry. They would call him “slow” again
and ask him what took so long.
Sadly, only the boy in the mirror left the room.
As he did, the great and mighty archangel Michael
stopped, knelt, leaned on his sword, and cried out to
God Almighty for the boy in the mirror.
[Reprinted here from my poetry book by the same name. –ALS]