Mother said, "Don't do it.
Once you do it
you have to go on doing it."
What kind of curse is that,
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,
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.