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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