From the pages of your mother’s book
they scare you.
Two men, naked
just outside the photo’s frame.
In your mother’s office, amidst
antiseptic, cotton balls,
Primary Care Medicine glints green
from the shelf. Your mother is away
with other lab techs
wresting antibodies from plasma.
She does not see you tip-toe over,
pull the five-pounder down,
part the book, page after page.
Two men, steel-wool chest hair,
brown skin glossy on paper,
poised to kiss across space.
Their glares sear hotter
than any your parents give.
Beneath them, the word
HOMOSEXUAL in the caption.
It will be years before you see them
this time after baptism
in the back room
of Macedonia Church.
Grown men peel from wet robes
like banana skins,
joke about the pastor’s Barry White voice.
You huddle among them,
wring out size-six socks.
You try not to look, try not
to see the muscled arms
and thighs. Try to forget
what you witnessed in the silent officeunder a lamp’s godly light.