Get NiftyLit news & updates delivered directly to your inbox. Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.

Skip to main content
Original artwork by Anthony J. Powers

On the Boardwalk There are Boys

Cerulean Walker
Our Bodies, Our Rights: Special Issue • Poetry


On the boardwalk there are boys

barking, and I think it’s towards me.


I am fifteen and a late bloomer and this hasn’t happened to me before, and I

don’t know why they would because I am wearing

a bucket hat and my favorite pants (navy capris) and a white shirt and am so clearly 

queer like all my friends.


It doesn’t bother

me so much as it scares me because 

I am alone except for my mother on the phone who is talking

about my sister’s eleventh birthday and doesn’t know

I am hopping down the stairs in my purple Crocs and crossing the parking lot to walk on the street parallel to the sea,

or that my heart is beating out of its chest. 



Every female-bodied person you know

has done this 

and will do it again. 






When Roe v. Wade was overturned I didn’t quite care at first. 

Again: gay. 

It was only when my friend—

My conservative-Christian best-ish friend and rival who makes me wonder

if it’s a sin to love someone like me too,  

asked me what I thought about it—

that I broke down crying. 


I didn’t

even cry at books until this year, 

let alone a world I don’t really even want to be a part of. 


My small pain is too big to contemplate the nation-wide things yet.

The things that concern all fifty ununited states,

plus DC and PR are beyond the span

of attention that is spent on friends in and out of hospitals

every couple months.



A friend of mine offered me three wishes. 

I said, “can I cancel global warming?”


She said yeah, what else?


I said I wanted

a functioning government,

and to never feel like I was running out of time. 


Did I mention I have a sister too? 

She’s almost eleven and I’m not sure she really understands

that an unprovable deity has more control

over her body than she does.



That night I was crying, 

I used my sister’s black Sharpie to write MY BODY

MY CHOICE on the front of a purple tank top and

ABORTION IS HEALTHCARE on the back but my mom

said she was worried about me wearing it out to the lake in

rural upstate New York and so I took it off.


She was right and I’m ashamed I listened. 



I came here with a male best friend who knows nothing about any of these thoughts

coming from my hands on the keyboard on the lower bunk.

He tries to understand, of course. His stepparent

in the other room was the first nonbinary adult I ever knew and to be honest

I want to be like both his parents when I grow up but I think 

he also knows it’s not the same. 


He’s a good friend, though.



He doesn’t bark

at tall but skinny little redheads walking down

the boardwalk in the daylight, 

and when we go home he’ll go back

to hiding in his room. 


He admits it,

he’s forgotten how to cry.