I hid my body in the back,
between the gutted skin of a coat,
under the oversized white shirt
that curled at my knees: ‘You’ll grow.’
Behind the shadows of gym doors.
Others watered their bud aloud,
proud to display patchwork secrets,
nervous hands cupping their age –
the ‘Queer!’ in a caught eye,
the sharp slap of a wet towel,
the chase with an erect penis.
Behind nature’s timetable,
I’d hide from those eyes.
Cower invisible in corners,
quiet in rehearsed dress,
muddy knees in trousers noisy in smell,
the stains from deodorant
sliding off sweat.
Sometimes the slow were culled,
the ones who couldn’t shield their
bald bodies with practice,
pathetic shapes discovered,
then stripped of their cotton blindness –
pulled into showers to view
To understand why we knelt at night,
to wake with hair beneath our arms.