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
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