by Zachary Caballero

I am singing Usher’s U Got it Bad
under my breath
past midnight
at a coffee shop
when the table I sit at
suddenly becomes the cafeteria
at my middle school which
on some Friday nights
became the dance floors
I would find myself wearing
a Ralph Lauren polo
and shoes that are not built for dancing,
but my sixth grade body don’t know that.

I am looking at a picture of my eleven year old brother
before his first middle school dance alone in my room
when suddenly my heart forgets its
hard promise, pours clean from my chest
like a punch bowl drunk with fresh fruit,
bodies ripe with sugar and the want to spill
I imagine the celebration that becomes of the cafeteria
as soon as he enters.
Wearing a striped Ralph Lauren Polo
with dark denim jeans, his hairstyle so slick
He smiles like he’s trying to earn his first kiss.
I imagine his ankles turning to air before all his friends
find their hips, and the girl he loves to tell me about
laughs at how he knows every lyric
to every Bruno Mars song that comes on
and I have already lost myself
thinking about how he tries to shake
the linoleum off the floor. In fact
I have already wept twice while writing this
but that’s okay cause my boy Kyler,
oh he is a King of loving things
even at eleven,
a boy believes in his body enough
to watch it burn down one night
only to have it back by morning—
That is my favorite part .