Skip to Content


By Stephen Zerance

My father hands me gifts he bought Christmas Eve:
an extra-large broadcloth and thirty-four waist khakis.

I dress different from the boys at school. My shirts fall
at my navel; my jeans are skintight.
I am to wear the outfit or my clothes will be ripped apart--

the neighbors are talking. No deals, no exceptions.
We are all there: my mother, my sister on the couch, my father
urging, Put them on. Put them on.

I strip in the bathroom with my back to the mirror.
The shirt hangs to my knees, the pants slide on buttoned.
My face is hollow. My skin--deaf, as the audience,

the family await me outside, my mother knocking,
Put them on for your father.

When I step out my mother will be silent. My sister--gone.
My father will clap his hands. He will look me in the eye, ask me:

Do you feel like a man?

Added: Monday, July 7, 2014  /  Used with permission.