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Fagging Out

The first time we heard the words
don’t fag out, our bodies wet,
too stubborn to move, we paused,
afraid of what this diminutive man
might know about flirting
fears we have, bowing
beneath showers’ heads
after practice. I've learned to hold
my tongue: extended family around
the table making jokes
about queers and men who talk
in a voice just a little too high-pitched,
until my aunt whose gay cousin
we do not touch,
afraid of contracting his disease,
spends his last weeks withering in bed
alone, excuses herself
to the toilet, and I sit there,
watching the women
shoot looks at their husbands, who nod
approvingly at each other, at me.