The Etch A Sketch

Sam and I spooned like twin fetuses,
cramped in the sweaty silk sleeping bag;
we listened for the arthritic
floorboards’ crick—my mom
trundling off to bed, to the nightly solipsism
of green tea and Country Living. Alone in the living
room, he groped my dick—our secret game—
but I can’t recall if it was still
new, limp and baffling as a boy’s first shoelace,
or if it had engorged with a preteen’s cocksure blood.
Did we kiss? If so, I must’ve loved
to pantomime my parents; their mouths melded
proudly into one, they groaned glib labials,
touted a language illegible to me.
—Sam had left me for sleep.
The gas fireplace coughed metallically
to fill the silence. The ceiling fan shook out
the black dust cached there: it coated him
like a museum exhibit, dumb and indifferent.

Dad’s rake and spade and chainsaw hung on the garage wall,
skeletal with disuse. Sam kicked the mass grave
of brittle fireplace logs like a detective
bored with his crime scene.
Euphoric from the perfumes of paint cans
I sucked his cock… it tasted neutral as kissing-practice
on my own fat arm. The garage in which I watched Dad fumble
with the Volvo’s engine, sickly and sputtering,
him content with its simple mechanics, teaching me nothing
but how to stay silent.

That night in my diary (an Etch A Sketch)
I scrawled the words Balls Kiss Sam Lick Butt,
testing out the adult terms he’d taught me,
thin and tenuous as a baby’s mumbling.
The next day I walked in on my mom—
a load of stale laundry swaddled in one arm,
pausing her task to read the tablet
open and incriminating on the floor.
My writing was crude, queer, and had come too soon:
she said nothing, confused as a dogowner
who can’t explain to him why howling’s grating.