To Make a Man

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I can feel the heaviness of heat
blanketed on my sun-brown back
being closely examined under the childish
scrutiny of my fellow thirteen-year-olds.
It’s odd to me how I can feel their stares,
and I silently curse their innate need for proof.

A single clear drop of H2O and NaCl
Makes its cheerful way down the side
of my sun-kissed and frowning face.
I can imagine that it is a drop of manliness,
the fruit of my tireless efforts in becoming
the most lionhearted man-child of my peers.

This thought lightens the burden on my mind,
and takes the pain, slightly, from my burning back,
although I still wish they’d get on with it.

“On with it!” I want to cry in vexation.

For three years I’d been looking forward to this;
to the day the sun would burn into my memory,
and in all of my brother’s of sweat and tears (not blood),
that I, most audacious man-child, was one of them.
Branded would I be with the seal of hard earned manhood.

I hear the clink of a fire poker, its metallic sound
Tingling and ringing in my sensitized ears.
It’s finally coming and I steel myself in anticipation.
There’s no turning back, no saying no, no running.
Tradition intertwines tightly with boyish stupidity,
And the consequences are heavily apparent in this event.

My shirt (pulled over my head to bare my back) is
suffocating a little, so I tug at it a bit and crane my neck.
The blood rushing in my ears makes me think of
the roaring hotness of the fire poker slowly advancing.
The boy holding the utensil’s shoes snap two dry twigs,
and then stop. Lord, let me survive this, I pray, head bowed.

One step more, and then another pause.
This time I really do shout, “On with it already!”
There are few chuckles, and a giggle, which I ignore,
and then it comes. And it hurts like no other wound
in this universe will ever hurt. I scream, but do not cry.
I will not cry. I will not cry ever again. Men do not cry.
I am a man now.





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