Dear Jared Cummings,
When I was 12,
I wrote you a letter.
All the kids
in Sunday School
were asked to write
to you, a missionary in Mexico.
Your mother used to babysit me—
I remember you
as a cool high
in & out,
cooking Pop Tarts
in the microwave,
cheering the Utah Jazz,
the tassels on your rear-view
mirror. The walls of your room
were covered in your artwork:
a charcoal drawing of a water glass,
the bend of light so precise & realistic.
I liked art, too.
In my letter, I complained about gym
class. I hated sports. I hated changing
in the locker room. From Mexico,
you reassured me nobody cared about
my skinny little pechos. You didn't know
I put on pounds that year
my mom was divorced—Little Debbie
snacks alone in the afternoons,
watching Saved by the Bell.
How in gym class
they made us stand
in line, shirts off,
to measure our stomach
fat with calipers.
The gym teacher's
rough hand grabbing
a fistful, pinching it
as he penciled
onto a clipboard.
Basketball was shirts versus skins.
I'd see the other boys' bodies
—strong, tall, lean—
making their shots, chest-bumping.
I could barely dribble. Maybe
this letter isn't for you,
but maybe this letter is for
a 12-year-old Deacon at church,
with tucked-in, buttoned-down
white shirt, khaki pants, a tie that zipped
up instead of clipped on. I loved
that zipper tie—I got it when my mom
married Steve—maroon for the photos,
matching her flowers. I waited
in the shade with my dad outside
the Denver Temple. I sat on the lawn,
plucking blades of grass,
trying to braid them. Or tie them
together into strings. Many broke
in the attempt—leaving green
fingerprints behind—but the ones
that didn't break were beautiful.
Later, at dinner, I turned on
the ceiling fan & paper napkins
fluttered off the table.
Maybe if you lost
you wouldn't feel so hot,
me was blades of grass,
all tied into knots.
Jack Garcia is the co-founder and Co-Editor-in-Chief of peculiar: a queer literary journal. Jack has had work published in Touchstones, Essais, and Orogeny. When not workshopping his poetry with the Rock Canyon Poets or working his boring day job as a jewelry store manager, Jack enjoys binge-watching The Golden Girls with his boyfriend and paying his student loans until he dies.