Where to Begin?

p
o
e
m
s

First, we’re skinny-dipping,

Sam & I, in a pond in Tennessee,

 

which is his idea, I should say,

& the tree with the rope swing

looms darker

 

than the dark night sky.

 

Second, the harvest moon,

which we came here to see,

 

is nowhere to be found,

instead the sky burning with stars

I can’t see without my glasses

 

that Sam describes for me.

 

Third, I’ve made no promises

to monogamy, but am not sure

about those who have.

 

I spent my twenties riding

trains through cities leaving

behind hotel rooms

 

of men who may

or may not have been—

 

I never asked. The world of men

who have sex with men

is a chrysalis, a paper lantern

 

the hornets fill

with sound. Underwater, our feet

keep touching. Sorry, Sam says,

 

sorry, sorry, sorry.

 

I imagine his wife after

a bath, wrapping her hair

in a towel. I imagine

 

the cluster of small towns

I come from,

 

each with its own abandoned factory

with its own broken windows—

The world of men

 

who have sex with men

keeps to itself as the rock

hurled through the last

 

intact glass. Shit happens,

you know? Sam says

about fidelity as we stroke

 

from one shore

to the next. What we don’t do

 

doesn’t matter. He towels off,

the moon peers over

the ridge, silvers the pond

 

at its skirts & the bed

beneath me, which is dark

& crowded with dead leaves.

Jacques J. Rancourt is the author of Novena and the chapbook In the Time of PrEP.

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 November 14

The new "William Gass Reader" celebrates the great essayist and philosopher—but it's Gass's fictions that will stand the test of time.

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