When I was a little girl I had a friend,
A cousin through the fictive kinship
We shared between families.
I was in third grade while
She was in fifth. That year
Before she went into sixth grade and
Left me behind
We learned to find everything sacred
In our bodies together.
We would walk to her house
After school and we would be
The only ones home.
We would take off our clothes and
Touch each other. We would moan
So loud it’s amazing
Her neighbors never told her mom
What we did. One day my uncle came
To pick me up and I didn’t know
He was coming and we were so involved
In our sounds and our skin that
We didn’t hear him at the door
Until it was too late.
I didn’t hug her goodbye that day.
I was afraid that if by some miracle
My uncle didn’t know, our tense farewell
Would give everything away. In the car he said
I know what was going on in there.
I guess he didn’t tell my mom or
She didn’t care because
I still walked home with Shardé
After school. Sometimes
I even spent the night.
Her mom made us bathe together
To save water and time.
We would sit in opposite ends
Of the tub, legs spread, bodies slick,
Holding parts apart to better see
Into each other’s insides. So much pink
Between those lips. The end of that year
Her flat chest became breasts
I could cup with my hands.
She filled out her bra.
She grew hair where I didn’t know it could grow.
We were explorers of caverns and caves.
We left the bath for her tiny, twin bed–touching
Until claimed by sleep.
I don’t know why we never kissed.
Maybe that would have been crossing
An invisible line that meant
We were something not easily defined
By the limited vocabulary of youth.
The next year when she began middle school
I’d see her at the bus stop,
Arms crossed, hair in tight bun,
Shorts barely hiding most treasured gifts–
We’d lock eyes
As she recognized our car.
We never waved. I wondered if now
She gave away everything we had to boys.