It was an afternoon
when the tangerine bubbles in my glass
made me light-headed,
but feel something.
You had just gotten back
from hot dusty roads in Iraq,
and I could tell from the rivers on your face
that your mind was still bruised
from all the broken bombshells and tremors in your past.
You said, “I hate those ‘We Support Our Troops’ bumper stickers.”
And I said,
“Hey, I’ll support you.”
(I thought I was being funny,
but you didn’t laugh)
Without losing the strain in your eyes
you grabbed my ass cheek firmly
like a quarterback grips the ball
before he finds a safe zone to let go,
or the way
a hopeless soul grips the windowsill
right before the release.
“I’d want you,” you said,
“if desire meant more than tonight.”
I let you take me anyway.
I thought I knew what desire meant
when I sat behind you
and asked you to name all the bones in your body
as I grazed my anxious hands
across the broadness of your chest.
And when I laid my lips on the trough in your back
I thought my body would burst from my inflated desire for you.
But that wasn’t desire,
not the kind you were thinking of, at least.
But I let you take me anyway.
It wasn’t until the next morning,
(cause you left that night
before the sun had sunk below the horizon)
when I knew my phone would never sing out your name
that I realized what I didn’t see.
couldn’t even come close to the way you felt
the day you laid your hands on your baby boy’s first kick
and you made a promise to yourself
that you’d teach him to use those feet to walk forward
instead of over other people,
or how to kick a ball and not a woman.
And you probably didn’t feel anything
leaving my house that night,
quite like the loneliness you carried out on your chest
the morning your child’s mother screamed,
“Get out you faggot!” as you walked out the front door.
I’m sorry I got so caught up
in the whirlwind of the moment.
It’s just that
when the orange that poured in from the descending sun,
drowned us in the tides of my sheets
you had put a finger on my cheek
and told me I was beautiful.
Like orange is even a good color on me.
It was like trying to find beauty in war
or in a past
you try all your life to forget.
Your words still echoed in the room that morning
when the sun returned to wash the space
of the darkness that was there when you left.
The orange glow clothed my tired body
and I couldn’t understand how you could have seen beauty
when I had been so selfish.