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Published: Wed Apr 15 1992
Salman Toor, Fag Puddle with Candle, Shoe, and Flag (detail), 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, N.Y. Photo: Farzad Owrang.

Look another way
_         _and Mrs. Dreyfuss’s dress is rising.
_                 _She stops me in front of the Cheerios.

How’s school? How’s sister? How’s Mom?
_         _I’m almost ready to confess
_                 _everything: My mother is terrible.

She makes beds and breakfast and sits
_         _all day watching TV, drinking diet soda:
_                 _the soda turns paler,

finally she falls asleep.
_         _She hates shopping,
_                 _her dead husband, her crooked son.

But I smile, say Mom’s fine, running
_         _for mayor, while the beer cans
_                 _I’ve stuffed under my green army jacket

rub up against my nipples,
_         _which are growing breasts of their own,
_                 _large and beautiful as Mrs. Dreyfuss’s.

I hope Mr. Dreyfuss did not see I was looking at them,
_         _my eyes moving down the buttons of her blouse.
_                 _The trouble with me is I don’t know

if I can love a woman. More than anything
_         _I fear Mrs. Dreyfuss’s lips
_                 _opening up to touch mine.

How will I ever kiss a woman without ever really knowing
_         _if it is a kiss? I dream I circle lazily
_                 _around the head of Mrs. Dreyfuss,

touching her hair. Although the aisles are beautiful
_         _with candy and fruit and I love staring at them
_                 _for theirs is a beauty of the world

not human, I am not thinking about them. I am
_         _thinking about love. Even the reflection
_                 _of my face on the shiny glass

of the tall refrigerator of beer is beginning
_         _to tell me about it: Do not confess everything:
_                 _It is necessary to deny

to go on.

See what's inside AGNI 35

The second book of poems from Jason Shinder, Among Women, is forthcoming from Graywolf Press in April 2001. His other books include several poetry anthologies, the annual series Best American Movie Writing, and, forthcoming in December 2000 from Harper Collins, Tales from the Couch: Writers on Therapy. He is on the faculty of the graduate writing programs at Bennington College and the New School University. (updated 2000)

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