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what else

By Tanya Olson

What else should I want. But to
be a boy. A boy. At his mother’s hip.
A boy between. His father
and the plow. A boy to remain.
What else.

When a boy. I ran fevers.
In these fevers. I ran circles.
Pursued. Front stairs up.
Back stairs down.  No bright
lines. Only constant threshold.
How as a boy did I know. Some houses
had one stairs for family. One stairs
for help. During fevers
I knew not. If I was sick.
Or a betrayer of the other worlds.

As a boy. I thought picking up
the gun would make me. No longer
a boy. As a boy with a gun. I thought
being elsewhere. Made me
a different boy. As a boy with a gun
and a different tongue. I thought
returning home. Would bring me home.

What else did I. But run. What else
should I dream. But of home.
And home and home. What else to want.
But to be a boy and a boy and a boy.

Added: Thursday, November 12, 2015  /  From "Boyishly" (YesYes Books, 2013). Used with permission.
Tanya Olson
Photo by Ruth Eckles.

Tanya Olson lives in Silver Spring, Maryland and is a Lecturer in English at University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC). Her first book, Boyishly, was published by YesYes Books in 2013 and was awarded a 2014 American Book Award. She has also won the Discovery/Boston Review prize and was named a Lambda Emerging Writers Fellow by the Lambda Literary Foundation. Her poem 54 Prince was included in Best American Poetry 2015.

Other poems by this author