Cedric Rudolph Reference

From the pages of your mother’s book

they scare you.

Two men, naked

from waist-up,


bottom halves

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

exposed again—

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 office

under a lamp’s godly light.

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