Two Girls Bathing and Other Poems

Two Girls Bathing

I am thirteen when my cousin
teaches me how to bathe. We face

each other on the concrete floor,
having carried cool buckets


from Auntie’s kitchen, both of us
walking with a limp to the pendulum


of water swinging. Carol’s hands
did not touch me like my mother’s did


when I was a girl and she stood me
and my brothers in the bathtub, made


an assembly line of our limbs, water
running, as she lathered then rinsed us


clean—three new pennies—before boys
became unlike girls, before even our mother


whose blood we ate, whose nipples
we cracked, was exiled from us.
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