Mama said there was no sin in swimming
with the distant sex, but Brother Jim forbade
such commingling, said the Good Lord made
us for bringing glory to Him, not for dimming
his light with temptation. Kissing, he said,
looked too much like chewing and proved a hunger
for God was at the root of a sinful bed
where naked fools tried to feed on each other.
Mama said getting close like that with a girl
would be sweeter than sweet. I wasn’t sure
who to believe, until the furious stir
inside began to ache and burn, and a girl
took my hand to her softest skin. Revival
week, they herded us to a bonfire
in the yard to confess all sins of the sexual
kind on paper plates. We folded our desire
into small squares, tossing it to the flame.
No one knew my sins were so much more
than fantasies, how later that night I’d pour
myself a little beer, call my girl’s name,
tasting her like bread on my tongue. Deliver
me from evil, I’d pray, fully aware
I’d join the sweet sin begging me to enter.
It’s a secret I’ve kept all these years. Prayer
never erased what I did. I paid the price
when I walked away, denied my own hunger,
leaving the touch that made me tremble, the wonder
on her face. My own open arms, the sacrifice.