Anna Oneglia   © 2013 All Rights Reserved

On the Island where I grew up


the men have wings. This is a secret they do their best to keep, pinning their wings beneath their shirts, trying their best to hold them down. But the wings have minds of their own, especially when they have just sprouted, and often flutter at inappropriate moments. Sometimes when a girl walks by, the wings break free and flap a boy around the room. Wings, the elders explain, are hard to tame and they replicate their owner’s state of mind. But in time the wings become familiar with the air, the currents of wind and thoughts, and they learn to glide safely like kites in the dark.
 

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On the Island where I grew up


wing growth begins at the age of twelve, though on occasion, it starts for a boy as young as eight. The first sign of wings is the thinning of the skin around the shoulders, followed by a monthly bleeding before the wings break through. The bleeding usually lasts for five to ten days and is accompanied by unpleasant odors, tenderness, moodiness, and feelings of shame. Pubescent boys wear absorbent pads on their backs, pads reminiscent of small mattresses, but leakages occur. And boys complain that they feel like the hunchback of Notre Dame. But by the age of sixteen most of the wings are fully formed. In one out of ten cases, the wings stay beneath the skin and must be surgically removed. Some envy the wingless ones, for they are not seen as sexual targets by Island woman or foreigners who will pay a high price to be the first to ride them.

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On the Island where I come from


only men with hairless bodies are considered desirable to the opposite sex. As an adolescent, I was so afraid of my body’s capacity to grow fur, I watched with horror as long black hairs took over my back, chest, arms, and legs, and created a small thicket above my penis. It was as if some shadow were taking over my body, covering me in a dark meadow.

Sooner or later I knew I’d have to join the crowds of Island men who visited the local salons for monthly grooming sessions. The salons, hubs of male social activity, were where my father and uncle caught up on the latest news, clothing styles, and gossip. Once a month I watched them leave the house, hairy and grizzled, and return hours later, as soft and smooth as ripe nectarines.




Nin Andrews
Copyright © 2013

Nin Andrews is the author of several books including The Book of Orgasms, Why They Grow Wings, Midlife Crisis with Dick and Jane, Sleeping with Houdini, Dear Professor, Do You Live in a Vacuum, and Southern Comfort. Her collection, Why God Is a Woman, is forthcoming from BOA Editions.


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