Private Parts by Sarah Kay

The first love of my life never saw me naked
There was always a parent coming home in half an hour
Always a little brother in the next room.
Always too much body and not enough time for me to show it.

Instead, I gave him my shoulder, my elbow, the bend of my knee
I lent him my corners, my edges, the parts of me I could afford to offer
The parts I had long since given up trying to hide.
He never asked for more.

He gave me back his eyelashes, the back of his neck, his palms
We held each piece we were given like it was a nectarine
That could bruise if we weren’t careful.
We collected them like we were trying to build an orchid.

And the places that he never saw, the ones my parents had labeled
“Private parts” when I was still small enough
To fit all of myself and my worries inside a bathtub
I made up for that by handing over all the private parts of me.

There was no secret I didn’t tell him,
There was no moment I didn’t share
We didn’t grow up, we grew in, like ivy wrapping,
Moulding each other into perfect yings and yangs.

We kissed with mouths open,
Breathing his exhale into my inhale and back
We could have survived underwater
Or outer space.

Living only of the breathe we traded, we spelled love, g-i-v-e,
I never wanted to hide my body from him
If I could have I would have given it all away with the rest of me
I did not know it was possible to save some things for myself.

Some nights I wake up knowing he is anxious,
He is across the world in another woman’s arms
The years have spread us like dandelion seeds
Sanding down the edges of our jigsaw parts that used to only fit each other.

He drinks from the pitcher on the night stand,
Checks the digital clock, it is 5am
He tosses in sheets and tries to settle,
I wait for him to sleep.

Before tucking myself into elbows and knees
Reaching for things
I have long since
Given away.

Sarah Kay

About Russell Boyle

Russell Boyle is a mathematics teacher, writer, and poet. His poetry anthologies are titled The Beginning, Footprints and Loneliness. Russell is the author of the Year 7 to 8 Mathematics Short-Answer Tasks, the Year 7 to 10 Mathematics Multiple-Choice Tasks, the Year 9 to 10 Extended-Response Tasks, the solutions to the Year 12 VCAA Mathematics Exams and the Web-Programming For Beginners series of courses. Sample poems and questions may be downloaded from
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