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Mardi Gras

By Megan Snyder-Camp | Posted 2/6/2002

The girl beside me wants a coconut. She's 13
and the man on the float above is sweating
through blackface. Almost noon
and she's begging him, her girlfriends crowding
around, their voices and arms reaching up
the bamboo glued to the belly of the float.
We all want a coconut to bring us luck.
The girl has little tits like fists, hard and far apart.
The man leans down with a coconut
in his wide palm, the last one,
and offers it if she'll show him. When she tells him
they're too small, he says he can make them grow
with those hands. They stand there, the parade
has stopped--he reaches down his hand
and she splays her fingers across his, this is how
small; they wait like that, her friends
gone off for beer and the crowd
quiet. They stare at each other
until the float lurches forward, his hands
rising wet off hers the way I rose
from my first boyfriend at the sound
of his parents in the hall, coming up from his couch
where we'd rubbed against each other
until it hurt afterward, everything red
and swollen. In the thickening crowd
the girl touches her breasts,
feels them rise and fall back shyly,
her hands smelling like someone else.

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