What reason could a boy have to twist
The handle of hot all the way open,
Plunge his hands into the sink, palms
Pressed flat against the bottom?
To feel his skin electrified?
The pain stunning him motionless?
To keep his hands there till the boiling
Fogs his face in the mirror? To make his hands
Obey, to make them stay precisely
Where they’re telling him so loudly they shouldn’t be?
To defy his mother, the one now shouting:
My God, what are you doing? Letting her
Pull him free? The cooling as she rubs
His hands with cream? The hands he holds
Before her, red and new, stinging in the air.
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 33 Number 4, on page 40
Copyright © 2024 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com