I can’t remember how I felt the first time
I hid behind a skirt in Beirut. Boys couldn’t
play in the same playground as girls.
When the headmaster didn’t pay attention,
we snuck in. I learned girls chewed gum
secretly. I learned they giggled in unison.
I learned they pulled their skirts up to show
more thighs when the boys came near.
When we heard the whistle, we hid under
the staircase, or behind the trashcan,
or the column that held the church dome.
I hid behind a skirt, unshaven, staring
at a pair of dirty ankle socks, completely safe.
Shahé Mankerian’s manuscript, History of Forgetfulness, has been a finalist at four prestigious competitions: the 2013 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Open Competition, the Bibby First Book Competition, the Quercus Review Press (Fall Poetry Book Award), and the 2014 White Pine Press Poetry Prize. His poems have appeared in Mizna.