Bandages

He was beautiful, with an oily smoothness.  I could—did—spend hours at a time admiring him as he worked; envying the tip of his tongue as it traced his upper lip, gazing at the curve of his neck as he bent over a notebook, resisting the urge to run my palm over every notch in his spine.  He was nothing if not masculine, and yet he was all curves: curves of smiles and laughs, curves of hips and breasts.

The breasts.  Every morning he bandaged them down without saying a word.  He used to glare into the mirror as he yanked the tape across his chest, and the more he glared the more he hated seeing himself, until finally he only stared at his feet—not just when bandaging his chest, but all the time, as if preserving masculinity by avoiding eye contact.

He was an engineer and an artist, with lemon hair and dusty skin.  Outside of the bedroom, he wore an undershirt and a t-shirt and a button-up beneath a sweater, hiding his chest behind a wall of clothes.  But in the bedroom, he stripped down and let my eyes devour him.  I feasted on the hills of his breasts and the flat, hairless plains of his stomach.  I rested my hands on the hips that held up sagging, washed-out boxers.  When he stood up, I kissed his kneecaps.  “You’re a man,” I said.

I wanted to say, “You’re beautiful,” but he would have scowled, closed off and shriveled up.  The words stayed curled beneath my tongue.

As I Touch My Lips: A Rondeau

You kissed me here not long ago;
how to define us, I don’t know.
When we touched, did you think it queer
to want our smiling faces near?
We redefine the status quo.

With you, I am all aglow,
confident but shy—although
I’m willing to cast off every fear
because you kissed me here.

I wondered if this were all for show;
we’re people who feel, with places to go.
By now, I thought my head would clear
but I feel something too sincere:
too sincere to take it slow
because you kissed me here.