My son died of complications
                            from diabetes.

          My father
was a member of the Ku Klux Klan.
                            I used to try on his robes.
          They felt heavy on me.
Like I was wearing rain.

                            I fought in Vietnam.

          I was addicted to cocaine.

“May we say ‘I’
                            in our research essays?”
          inquires the nurse
back in the classroom for a refresher course,
                            the man laid off by Conrail,
          as if they’re in grade school again
and have to ask, “May I
                            go to the bathroom?”
          “May I get a drink of water?”

I have a son who’s very ill.
                            Even his father doesn’t know
          he’s HIV positive.

I have a brother who’s schizophrenic.
                            When we first found out
          my parents insisted
I tell everyone that he was
                            away at boarding school.

          I have ADHD.

I am bulimic.

                            I am a cross-dresser.

          The nakedness
of the first person. Brave foolish
          No wonder
you want to throw a cloak
                            over it,
          lead it to the side,
say what you can to comfort it.