Ecstasy

When labels were collars around necks

ruffled, feathered, leather, yoke

you were either ‘gay‘ or you weren’t

I was. And I fell for a man.

Boy really. Once. Only time.

Hips smaller than mine, delving into my bones

like cream poured through coffee we burned calcium

our former labels damp at the door.

The value of a woman is in her smell

the rustle of her soul, how gentle and tough

merge together into womanhood

he was none of these

acrid, funny tasting (masculine?) Sinewy arms wrapping around

like a lost bear it didn’t feel ‘right‘ it didn’t feel ‘wrong

we were very young, his mind on fire trying to figure out the world

popping little tabs like they could pause time

because God, someone had to.

In Winter’s loose ends, we holed up at his brother’s flat

half-Thai eyes and burnt toast skin, along with the tang of marijuana

it’s hard not to fall for genius’s and sexual beings with magnetism in their lips

we lay in the dark, he emulated a girl and then became a boy

shadows on the wall, male, female, something more

I clung to him through torrent, it didn’t feel ‘wrong‘ it didn’t feel ‘right

night stretched out in submission, he loved me being a woman

in ways maybe another woman never has

joined we were, hard to separate, laughter, solace, grief, shards of joy

his body sleek like a girls, hard to accept the difference, I looked away

feeling him move inside me like a word

aching for punctuation.

I felt like a woman, a woman, a woman

contrast, a figure of eight in reflection

kinder than any girl I knew, smarter than any other human

a girl will touch your breasts with knowing, then ask you to find her bra

he brought me gypsy guitar and red wine and sucked until I screamed.

Dancers, we, danced in detail, scratching out labels defining

what this was, who, what?

I didn’t love him, no. Love an underdeveloped muscle

in a closed box, only women and their sharpness can pick

he searched my face, my breasts, my thighs, for signs

of relenting, wanting to bury himself within, become one

stay together, two cusps, why not? Be mine. Marriage

some papered form of devotion. Not ownership, just need.

I wanted to give him a child then, birth it

right there on the futon, beneath moon, hollering; “eat me until

I become glutted on your goodness,” We shook together

a ritual, procession into silvered ore earth’s center

letting go, the child came, bidden, quickening, like opening

your mouth and accepting change, drink me down

between my legs, the writhe of us, male/female/female/male

losing edges, the blurred outline of pretense.

We woke when the light came

to an empty room

nothing left of us to consume

just condom wrapper

unused by the bedside

and life in my belly rounding music

he wore my silver ring

I told him, don’t cut your hair

remember nothing

we walked in opposite directions

he took a bus

I, a train

he never knew I took him too

in my belly, quiet and full.

Against the unknown world

They move together like quicksilver

indisipherable in pursuit

there is such a love in his eyes

her smooth hands cup his mouth

drinking the words he would gush

if they were not pressed tightly, one to the other

locked in an embrace

that gives life

quickening as signature is fluid

when she finds out, she imagines telling her daughter twenty years hence

the story of her conception;

your father and I loved you very much

we lay down by the fireplace, he took me in his arms

from this passion you were forged into life

clay breathed upon, bearing breath and soul

you were wanted, even before you chose

to fill us with yourself

my stomach grew and grew until

it was a tight drum on which to paint

the symbols of your dream

**

He moved in her, his eyes tightly shut

he thought of other women, he thought of touching himself

in the office toilet at lunch with folded magazine

and why such things happened when he had all he could ever want

here in his arms, still he betrayed with desires, ill-tuned to eternal love

when she grew fat and round he did not

wish to hold her quite so tightly, or touch her hot flushed pressing flesh

he thought of others, he got up early, and jogged his frustration into sweat

**

Don’t worry the doctor smiled, with a savage wink

as she labored and her face grew red and her hands sought his

and he wanted to run from the room and shove well fed nurse

against the wall and pour his horror of birth and future into her lipsticked sighs

don’t worry the doctor smiled, with a savage wink

i’m going to sew her up even tighter, it will be like

Christmas day when you unwrap her again

the quintisential “husband’s stitch”

and over his starched cloak and gown, the doctors grey eyebrows

went up and down and he, who was lost

lurched and threw up at the violence and the shame

of men and of women and of life and death, inequality and lust

**

then his daughter was born

fat and round and squalling loudly

if he could have interpreted those words, he felt they spoke to him a repromand

for his cowardice and his fears, imagining being a father

of growing up and settling down, of love and impossible challenges and joys

he saw his wife’s face, wet with sweat and hair plastered down

he felt more than he had ever felt, the emptiness of the past replaced

no longing to empty himself in the coldness of pornography as she slept

a lifetime from the day he first took her to bed and

stripped her of choice with impregnated seed

and now he knew

the fear of men is the strength of women

his daughter fixed him with swollen red eyes

watching him with a stearness that seemed to say

you can do this, you got this, you are not your worst thought

you can be who you want to be, you can be my father, you can love these women

you can direct our future, reshaping mountains

or fall into the arms of least resistance, worship the emptiness of hollow gestures

she seemed to be saying with her tiny fists and pursed lips

turn away from your shallow sport, take this road with us

he who once was weak, grew with love

those things that once were, no more

his resilience, their armor

against the unknown world