(taut jeans dancing)

An Anthology of Poetry about Being Young and Growing Up
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Barbara Drake

Mother said, "Don't do it. Once you do it you have to go on doing it." What kind of curse is that, I wondered. Hair will always grow back. You will not have to go on the street to keep yourself in razor blades. Surely there is nothing final about the loss of armpit hair virginity. So I waited till one day when mother was gone, then made a hasty retreat to the tub. Awash in gardenia bubble bath and pine scented bath oil, I lathered, shaved, dried and powdered my armpits and legs, wiped the prickly evidence off the porcelain, put on a flowered nightie and took my smooth little self to bed with a book-of-the-month-club selection to read. When mother came home, came in to say good night, I remarked (casually), "Look what I did," and threw back the covers to show her, fait accompli, my sleek legs. I hadn't noticed the many cuts which now had bled and dried to the sheets. It looked like a suicide attempt, death by superficial laceration of the shins. Mother looked peculiar and left the room. Oh God, I thought, now I have to keep doing it.

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