In high school, my best friend’s
twin sister had polio as a child;
she had a pretty face
and tight curled auburn hair
but she could only walk
with two metal crutches—
her legs two straight sticks.
The other kids made fun of her
the way cruel high schoolers do,
my friend red-faced
keeping his head down,
getting as far away
from her as he could.
Once when I slept over their house
she snuck into my room;
her crutches as mute
as an unformed thought,
touching me under my boxer shorts.
she wouldn’t let me touch her legs
or go past her silk pajama top.
They looked so much alike
that I couldn’t stand
to be around him after that night,
the memory of her soft hands
and the steel like cold of her legs
she pressed against me just once
before she told me to clean up,
my legs on fire as she stroked a thigh
sighing into my ear, don’t tell Jim—
he thinks a cripple can’t do anything
except lie still like a broken branch,
but I’m more like a tree carved
by lightning, fed by rain and wind.
MICHAEL MINASSIAN is a Contributing Editor for Verse-Virtual, an online magazine. His chapbooks include poetry: The Arboriculturist (2010); Chuncheon Journal (2019); and photography: Around the Bend (2017). For more information: https://michaelminassian.com