Barbara Benoit

King Boy

I escaped death for birth; I was a Lilliputian, flicking in, out of vision, an
arm red as liver, only to see hedgehog hair I endured from home remedy
enemas. In baptismal mucous, my head multiplied 49 times — depressing as
that was, my face was a rococo living room. Silver floors sprung with
hallucinogenic light over my carved nose, nostrils the fists of Victorian chairs.

School children mocked me getting our pet sheep off the school bus. They
waited by an iron fence, smacking me around. If I was a tail that day they
spun me into a ball. They gave me a good hard yank and shoved me into
the atmosphere; when I landed, my invisible bones frog-croaked. I flew to
them, yanked each neck so it hurt just enough and they ran away screaming
like scrummed bullies.

I was my father’s king boy. I sat on the counter measuring flour, pouring it
off to one side, heaps of genuflecting flour. Father looked quizzical in his
Baptist-minister thrift shop suit and walked barefoot over the piles of T
crossing flour.

Over my childhood years I developed a lemon halo that bled, a stigmata. It
smelled like Jack in the Pulpit and Mother used it for perfume. People
peeked in our living room windows, getting down on their knees, speaking
glossolalia, moaning. The floor carved itself into small statues of the Virgin
Mary. A mouse nibbled them while the people kneeled.