John led a life before — and for a while after — I met him that was beyond anything I’d ever experienced. It wasn’t always easy for me to handle, but I only made the mistake of giving up on us over it once. The man I saw was never the man other people seemed to.
Transparent, But Not Invisible
The most I could hope for, they said,
Was another kiss goodbye, a collection
Of might-have-beens and should-have-knowns
Like those tiny spoons sold as souvenirs at
Civil War battlegrounds and national monuments.
A stone island in the ocean, they said.
He’s surely no one fit to love. Not even for a poet.
But in spite of them, because of them,
I love every smooth and sparking facet of you:
The salt and raw silk of your hair I clutch in my fingers,
The crackle of your sea-storm eyes
As you kiss me and taste how I gasp your name.
No, it isn’t because of them, or even in spite.
It’s you, forever as you are. Screw them. They never saw
You in that skeezy Omaha motel room taping your hands
Because we were hungry and out of gas money,
Or how you pressed your face into my hair later
As I hacked away at the tape with embroidery scissors,
Or how you dug the blood from under your nails
So you could take me out for a proper midnight dinner,
Or how later you sat and stared into those scrubbed hands
And rasped Peach, I’ve no right to touch you with them.
I put them where I wanted them most, and you groaned
And fell on me like a sheet of afternoon rain.
They won’t ever know these things,
Even if they read this poem tomorrow.
The truth of you will pass through them
Like x-rays, showing me more about them
Than they’ll ever know how to see in you.