The Mystery of the World


At age 10 my legs took up most of my body,

rollerskate-skinny legs, bruised and scabbed.

My long hair knotted in the bicycle breeze,

my wild eyes watered in the wind.

Summers we'd go Dumpster diving

in the apartment complex that failed

to substitute for the old house.  Our treasures

included maggoty food, medical supplies,

and a cracked leather suitcase filled with porn.


We hid the stacks of magazines in foreign woods.

I lived in a girlbody, useful for climbing

trees or swinging a long leg over and into a Dumpster.

The naked pictures did and did not stun me.  Daily,

the mysterious world alluded to my exclusion.

Closed doors, hushed voices, channels quickly flipped.

We gaped at the glossy pages of splayed women,

knowing this was Inappropriate, thus thrilling.


The teenage Saudi boys next door found

the stash.  We waged war of ownership

for marked and unlucky goods.  Face off: me

with hands on hips straight as a diving board,

my mouth a resolute line.  The exchange of terrible

words, quickly forgotten in the amnesia of survival

and temporary housing: moving trucks, disappearing

acts, people I would never see again.


Oh, you.  By which I mean to say, me.  I want to wean

you off this world.  The shock and repeated hurt of it.

Years spent looking into the wrong kind

of mirror, mind inside its inconsistent cage.

Listen, Dumpster treasure: climb

out.  Dust your limbs, streak the grime.

Carry this cracked suitcase of a life

to lost streets and codeless cities,

where unintelligible people murmur and stare.

Watch; be watched.  Like most things,

little tomboy, it goes both ways.  No matter

whose gaze, the mystery is you.

Copyright © 1999-2017 Juked