By Rita Dove
Although it is night, I sit in the bathroom, waiting.
Sweat prickles behind my knees, the baby-breasts are alert.
Venetian blinds slice up the moon; the tiles quiver in pale strips.
Then they come, the three seal men with eyes as round
As dinner plates and eyelashes like sharpened tines.
They bring the scent of licorice. One sits in the washbowl,
One on the bathtub edge; one leans against the door.
“Can you feel it yet?” they whisper.
I don’t know what to say, again. They chuckle,
Patting their sleek bodies with their hands.
“Well, maybe next time.” And they rise,
Glittering like pools of ink under moonlight,
And vanish. I clutch at the ragged holes
They leave behind, here at the edge of darkness.
Night rests like a ball of fur on my tongue.
Rita Dove, “Adolescence-II” from Yellow House on the Corner (Pittsburgh: Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1989). Copyright © 1989 by Rita Dove. Reprinted with the permission of the author.
Source: Yellow House on the Corner (1989)