The Therapist Asks 3

“But there were times when you offered your consent with older men. You chose them, & you were not afraid. Why not?”

You don’t know the true success of survival till you’ve experienced the adrenaline of a too-close death. What is there to fear when you’ve licked the edge? It is going to be an oppressively hot summer, the New York Post says, but I’ve got a few of my own stowed away, enough to occupy a foreign desert.

There was one summer, his name was Tito and my sisters still say his name just like that, “Tee-toww,” the O a benchmark in the bottom of the jaw. I was just 12 but the gaze itself made me a flame, so no one could tell, I guess,

or no one would tell. He was the kind of heavy swelter that had the whole block at mercy, everyone’s connect to whatever they needed, which was much and in bulk. Power is a switch that yokes me up at the waist — I was young & enamored by this pattern of men who shouldn’t want me but would risk day to touch the stark chant of me. Each time, I imagined a witchcraft enveloping the bone. I remember,

once, at some low hour in the trough* of that summer — my mouth a voyaging boat, Tito’s spine a current of illicit knots, his hand a spindle on the back of my coarse head — he looks down at me, & moans out “Who the fuck are you?”

I say, and the answer is always the same thereafter: nobody, who are you?

*Okay, in any event, Elizabeth and I were in the pool, swimming and playing.
More Poems by Camonghne Felix