I used to love hugs.
As girls, we would plaster our flat chests together tightly,
like magnets, after band competitions
inhaling the scent of each other’s armpit sweat mixed with suntan lotion.
Today, when Penelope pulls me in after the concert,
my body jolts like a scared swimmer, halfway into the dive.
The selfishness of a college senior
fishing profits from a dazed girl invested in exploration –
“I don’t want to go there”
but he guides my hand anyway.
You grow up and develop a distaste
for those that get too close to you. We are as claustrophobic
as skyscrapers crowding parking structures,
storming our way down, collars up, like New Yorkers.
The white college student seems confused by the shudder of my shoulders
and the silent tears that come when he drapes his arm around me.
Is it too poetic to say,
“I still feel his fingerprints on my skin?”
“I’m afraid you’ll dig in too deep as well.”
The Hispanic businessman asks if I ever get tired of only waking up alone.
I tell him when you’re used to holding things together —
cradling yourself in bed isn’t too bad.
I don’t want to be a tragedy case.
It garners no sympathy,
plus no one cares about a bruised fruit when all they want is sugar.
Smile and fold hands during shrink sessions.
Cross your legs and sit upright.
The diagnosis is simple.
Clamp down on pent-up stories and feelings,
Just drown each time someone puts their hands on me.