Boy as Girl in Orange Tank Top or How to Eat a Nectarine

By Robert Walicki
You’ll need fingernails—like a girl’s,
to push down with. Dig deep into skin—

pull off the shredded pieces of an orange tank top,
long legs to stand with, until a bedroom mirror

becomes a baseball field. That day they saw you,
said “Who’s that ugly girl?” and something unraveled.

His fists, the knife, torn locks of hair from your head
Girl in mud. Girl with the lisp. Pretty lips. Boy/

girl, be careful. Become a boy.
Play nice, with other boys.

Learn war and learn break his little soldier arms.
Throw him off the sofa cliff.

Make those noises with your mouth again—
for explosions. Girl, become a boy.

Learn to wrestle, pull dog’s tails,
hide your no-boy muscles under longish shirts.

Pick fights. Learn to spit. Dig deep.
Bite down and swallow.

Robert Walicki‘s work has appeared in over 40 publications including Fourth River, Stone Highway Review, Red River Review, and others. A Pushcart and a Best of The Net nominee, Robert currently has two chapbooks published: A Room Full of Trees (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2014) and The Almost Sound of Snow Falling (Night Ballet Press), which was nominated to the 2016 Poet’s House List of Books in NYC. His first full length collection, “Black Angels,” is forthcoming from Six Gallery Press.