He showed me how to shower when I was five. Seducing and scary. My
father had a temper. Like: If my sister and I were loud in the morning
he’d bust into our bedroom in deliberate underpants, yank down
our PJs and wallop our naked behinds with a belt. Meanwhile:
He choreographed duets in the shower. “Hold my arm.” “Don’t be
a baby.” “You forgot to scrub your neck.” With a handsome plump
New Jersey penis gawping at me. And water running down it. And a
lush unexpected wooly profusion of primitive hair reaching up to his
belly button. Debonair scrotum. Belligerent biceps. Military nipples.
Plus my long undefended idolizing looks from a foot or so below him.
Long but intimidated. Long and longing. As long as forever. Secretly
delirious, I would fantasize further admiring looks at other, older
naked slabs of the same manly standard. Even Adrian Godstrey maybe
three summers later when he was nine and I was eight would be old
enough for a similar deification. He had freckles and a grown man’s
haircut tight around his noggin. His body had that new squaring-off of
the shoulders and wrists that can come before puberty. As we wolfed
down pudding—tapioca, my favorite—in Adrian’s rich-people’s eat-in
kitchen he said “Let’s head over to the pit behind the factory and
slide down the hill.” We slid down the hill (red dirt and stones) maybe
ten or twelve times and hollered our heads off. Then a final descent
on the ass of his pants and my friend squinted downwards, over his
shoulder, saying “Get a load of this.” The stones in the dirt had ripped
away the seats of his bermuda shorts and BVDs and I could see his
precociously mannified backside bursting and reddened through the
tatters of plaid. He asked me to join him in a shower at my place and
lend him a pair of outdoor shorts so his mother wouldn’t notice the
shredded bermudas. He walked ahead with his hands barely shielding.
Our incidental mingling in the topsecret shower, I came to understand,
wasn’t exactly necessary. He didn’t really see me. But I saw him: his
long smooth body with a jillion additional gentile freckles, his
honeydew haunches and fuzzless dick that he soaped and soaped like a
rubber bunny. I don’t think he knew how seducing he was. But of
course I became obsessed with him and the needlessness of a shower
duet and coincidentally Curtis Leshinsky at the Hackensack Y.
Daniel Meltz’s poetry’s been published in Best New Poets 2012, American Poetry Review, Salamander, upstreet, Plume, Imitation Fruit, Talking Writing, Audio Zine, Temenos, Assisi, Mudfish, CCAR Journal, Verse Wisconsin and other journals. He’s been nominated for three Pushcart Prizes in poetry and was a finalist in competitions held by Elixir Press, Marsh Hawk Press and Four Way Books. He’s a retired technical writer and teacher of the deaf, has a BA in English from Columbia and lives in Manhattan and Queens.