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BAMBOO
Tom Whalen


( Brady Street, Baton Rouge, La., 1951 )

IN THE BACKYARD SURROUNDED BY BAMBOO YOU AND YOUR FRIEND would play and not always alone often the twins who lived on the other side of the bamboo they would join you in the sacred enclosure hardly a year's difference between you and the twins the boy the girl no sound in the bamboo but the tick of the leaves and the faint pant of children together the reeds swaying above the air soured by the petrochemical plants and the wind from the Gulf you could smell it even here in the backyard bamboo in Baton Rouge the twins your friend two of each sex your toys adream in the dirt not that it mattered whether it was his or your penis her labia or her labia no matter under the hands or lips whose lips or hands the bamboo allowed no eyes but shredded the light laid it in strips on the dirt and air how easy clothes come off at four the twins your friend adream the reeds swaying the swing still beyond the bamboo the twins' backyard unknown to you as yours to them never crossing over only here between the lots sacred zone neither there nor here alone you met and never the same alone or with your friend in the bamboo the light shredding the dark the Gulf and your mother ill in her bed protected by the spaniel not exactly your concern only being four in the enclosure hardly a year's difference you and the twins you and your friend she a year ahead of you in the bamboo the faint panting surrounded by her hands or lips never crossing never the same when alone often they would join you each sex met and the dark whom for God's sake above the air soured your friend two of each sex at four the twins in the bamboo never in the backyard the swing ascending almost touching the tips of the bamboo when she pushed you higher not that it mattered adream on the dirt unknown and somewhere panting swaying and the wind the twins the twins even in the bamboo the lots sacred to whom you pushed the enclosure despite a year's difference the labias or penises no matter whose for years you slept with a dream the bamboo the toys the petrochemical plants the Gulf with whom for God's sake alone and not always no sound but the clank of the milk bottles on the doorstep or perhaps the iceman unhooking the ice but almost always too early for you to be in the bamboo not before eight not after six and the toys your army men in the grass a ball covered with clowns a doll in a state of dishabille even the spaniel black cocker Tarbaby come out to play would not enter the bamboo with you in it given sun though even in rain if the twins were free your mother ill in bed the four of you in the bamboo touching one another shed clothes the light with whom you met and never the same hands and the Gulf the panting the avidity finally of your bodies while death's avidity worked its way faster inside the house father at his job as a mechanic most nights to be avoided when you and your friend huddled together what else was there to do in the closet in your room or hers while parents fought and once or twice together you slept outside in the petrochemical air under a mosquito net and one night guilty of a dinner table infraction you were cast alone outside the French doors locked out of the house and pleaded to be let in only to be thrown by his big hands onto the grass where moonlight off a TV aerial terrified the night to silence not even your crying for God's sake didn't you then in the bamboo become more avid no matter whose labia or lips and never the same alone the swing swaying the swing in your backyard the twins' backyard unknown crossing over only here between the lots sacred zone neither there nor not there here alone you with your friend in the bamboo the light shredding the dark your mother ill in bed the amber pill bottles toppled over on the sheet while in the bamboo hardly a year's difference between you and the twins the boy the girl no sound in the bamboo but the tick of the leaves and the faint panting of children together the reeds swaying above the air soured by the Gulf wind you could smell it even here in the backyard bamboo the twins your friend two of each sex toys adream in the dirt not that it mattered whether it was your army men in the grass a ball covered with clowns a doll in a state of dishabille even the spaniel black cocker Tarbaby come out to play would not enter the ticking of the reeds the shedding of clothes of light even in rain the ecstatic tingle no matter the twin or gender.

 

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