Sprinkler water, catching sunlight,
Staining a flat driveway.
Earthy clouds drift overhead,
Potential-stuffed, futures a’thousand.
And on the ground, and on his back,
A melon-boy looks at the sky.
Clothes are wet, but he is young,
His mother still puts up with him.
The smell of grass, the overcast,
All of it feels so real, right now.
Time moves slowly and the night kindly,
Microwave meals and soft canned carrots.
When the sun goes down, they’ll eat,
Outside, in the neighbor’s backyard:
Sweet, tender barbecue and greens,
And the men might sip some beer.
The inside of his mouth was sticky,
With his hands, and the rest of his face.
His eyelids were stuck open,
Fixed by the sugary glue of the popsicle.
Fireworks on the Delaware river,
Bassy, scary booming overhead.
A sweetness so heavy he felt it in his jaw,
Smoke and fake fruit in his nose.
Camping chairs carried to the riverbank;
Unloaded from the back of an old car,
Still dirty from the wilderness,
And mulchy, wet.
Wearing a neon orange shirt,
Too big, his father’s size,
Still damp, all the way through,
Clinging to his hairless body.
The dog was dead, put down,
At the vet’s office earlier today.
His father was somewhere else by now,
Working, maybe, or hiding, or both.
Saplings around the melon-boy’s house
Had risen, strengthened into dense trees,
The backwoods, swaying to Pennsylvania,
Where the ground is forever muddy.
He beat on a dead, fallen tree with a stick,
Which he had found, rotting,
Within a newborn bush,
Covered in dead, soggy leaves.
Inside, his mother was making dinner.
Red meat– Cheap steak,
From the butcher by the church,
To commemorate the little dog’s life.
He was getting older, now,
Less melon-ish, he thought.
But not old enough, not ever.
So he joined a wrestling team.
He wanted muscles,
Like steak at the grocery store.
Firm and fleshy,
Volume full of bloody mass.
He wanted to take up space,
To have a body with a presence.
He smelled the sweat of men,
Seeping into the floor-pads.
In the locker room, before practice,
There was another boy,
With scratches all over his back,
Dissolving into his skin.
And as it were, he grew.
Muscle and fat, burgeoning within,
Fused together, inseparably,
Soft and strong.
Wider shoulders, facial hair,
A swelling gut, a grizzly odor:
Pheromones, and more sweat.
Violence masquerading as strength.
With his every step, the earth shook,
Quaking under the weight of his brawn,
Toppling vases and killing flowers,
Shaking the clouds themselves.
His hair had grown thick,
As brambles covered in sap,
His smell, a smog, dirtying all,
Staining like cigarette smoke.
He grew, and grew, and ached,
Straining his own endless muscle,
Forcing it to bear its own weight,
Upright, on his feet.