©2017 Q* Anthology of Queer Culture

An independent student publication in the Charlottesville and U.Va. community

Oh

July 11, 2018

Being so young, I always had that outside smell, you know?

The aroma something akin

to the hum-drum banter of cicadas, the unabashed little bastards would

strip down and leave their garments

neatly ironed and hung in the rich shade of the magnolia trees. I was jealous.

Look at how they could just take that stink off!!

But me––the thick Virginia haze beckons to freshly laid tar, says, Hey gooey,

won’t you come up out of there?

Won’t you come up from that trench? And so it did, the stench clinging shy

and grateful

to my Washington Bullets jersey and grey cargo shorts. My black Etnies skate shoes

and hairy legs. I wanted to be a boy.

But I had beautiful hair down to my waist and B-cup buds slinging around under my shirts

(Nana no I will not wear it I will not!!!).

My legs were long and shapely, thicc. Papa always said keep those legs crossed

even when I wasn’t wearing a dress.

My best friend was Neiko and his mom called me a tall glass of water.

How do you come back from that?

Drilled in through the ears. The eyes, cemented. My body, a construction site.

And what a sight.

I wanted to hug Erin Gibbons. Or Kathryn Cole or Megan Bell. Coming home from school

I would settle for Nana’s embrace,

squeezing as tight as a young boy in love could.

Oh –

her nose scrunches and she lets go       Oh –

baby, you stink like outside.

 

 

ALIYAH COTTON

she, her, hers

College of Arts & Sciences

Class of 2019, Area Program in Poetry Writing and Music

 

While I was home for spring break last year, I was taking a walk around my neighborhood and reflecting on all those uncertainties of growing up. That’s where the motivation for "Oh" came from. Some of my favorite poets are Ross Gay and Solmaz Sharif, and I especially love poems that incorporate music in their language, structure, or soundscape.

 

 

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