in third grade your english teacher tells you to stop
plucking the hairs from your arm during class.

you will go home
and use wikipedia to diagnose yourself with trichotillomania
— a compulsive urge to pull out one’s own hair —

you have a chronic case.
you, who sprout hairs above your mouth at eleven

you will not remember the details: only the eyes, the white faces, the jealous boys, that photo of you sitting on the stairs in your aunt’s house

the one you will show future lovers and ask:
at what point do we change? when do our bodies betray us? can you help me forget?

you remember the
way you embraced your family:
the edges of your sister’s razor in the shower: your armpits burn for weeks,
there is a patch on your left ankle that will never grow back

your father’s electric:
you are thirteen and you are the first boy in your class to shave,
and you will not let them forget it
and you will tell them about the blood
but you do not tell them about the tears,

the pain of losing ‘boy’
and becoming ‘man’
the growing pains

wikipedia won’t let you edit the page,
but you have learned that trichotillomania is a synonym for impatience,
is a way to describe the man, the body pushing his way out of you
from inside,

is a way to describe those growing pains
the scars underneath your armpits, the blood in the shower,
the hairs sprinkled on your desk like a signature
saying this is who we are:
we who take growth in our own hands.

you burnt yourself last week and you cannot help but notice the patch of hair on your left leg the flames took with them,
cannot help but smile when your nurse shaves your right thigh for your bandage
these are the sacrifices a body must make for growing too fast,

and sometimes you wonder if you caused the fire, and sometimes you wonder if you should have kept shaving

and the hair keeps coming back, and the wounds keep throbbing, and the man inside keeps knocking, and you, who are impatient, keep running

and i have never been good at waiting,
but i am seeing the way that my fingers are phoenixes,
becoming touch again,
with every tear

and i am seeing the miracle of body,
the way hair grows back
scabs heal, lips kiss

and i have never been good at waiting,
you see i have a chronic case of trichotillomania and i am used to pushing things out of me so they can’t hurt me anymore, which goes to say that, i am waiting for your phone call,

i am waiting to touch you and find something salvageable in ‘man’ and ‘body’
i am waiting to hold you, so closely that you stop me from growing out of myself, and

i have never been good at waiting,
but i am camped out here on this bed, in this city, with a photograph, a razor, a beard, a heart, a story, a ticking clock,

growing pains, waiting for you


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