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Once There Was a Boy

I

All of what follows is true.

I felt I had a body.
Stood on a platform above wetlands
wood stained green and creaking,

settling into itself, making peace
with the nails dented into its surface.
I am alone, tourist on a narrow bridge

stroking the reeds that reach up between the slats.
There is the sound of breathing from the leaves,
and a luminous figure emerges from the bog.

White. Clean. With a face like a melting clock.
It staggers towards me, tells me
that I am dead. This is a swamp of dried flowers,

plastic water. Rock hard bubbles that never move.
Tape recorded nature sounds.
I will myself awake and instead summon a new dream.

White. Clean. A blinding kitchen.
Dave and Brian standing behind a counter,
Brian chopping vegetables, silent

thinner than usual, and more dainty
a caricature of himself, Homosexual at Leisure.
Dave looks just like Dave.

ďYouíre dead.Ē

I awake and itís four in the morning.
My feet and hands still wet from the rain.


II

On the way home, reading.
The boy beside me so beautiful,
easy. He wants to know

everything. Sometimes strangers talk to me.
Tell me not to chew so much on my fingers,
say itíll scar, or get infected, or worse.

As if I could help that hunger. The boy
beside me asking about the book Iím reading,
about other books.

My voice rusty like a broken door. A room
that doesnít open from the inside anymore.
I feel a sudden longing for sleep

and answer in short sentences.

Questions distorted by air and the plastic
cleanness surrounding me. Bullet-proof.

His face is long and black. Cratered.
Oblique references to Margaret Trudeau, I need
to get out of this plastic box and

congratulate him for being so smart.
For being so like you.
I choose a page to rip out

in case he asks for my phone number, but hedoesnít.
In the darkened window,
I can see my own face. White. Wounded. Numb.


III

Ground level.
I see everything in red,
even the wind.

My mind could rebuild this street from memory,
along with the cars and weather,
tingling in my fingertips and ears,

shortness of breath. The shrinking
and swelling of snow banks,
skewing the distances between things.

There was a slipping point, a place
where things fell away. Today I saw
two different used condoms on the ground

and wondered why I dreamed them there.
To notice things. To watch
as cars drive over them and people pass.

To carve them out of intimacy and into busy street
and frost. Sex collage.
Once there was a boy

put his thing inside me.
A strange thing, like a dead trout poking
at my body, knocking against me, blind

and thirsty. Itís all white and red up here,
the sky blurring like a bowl of troubled milk
and I walk the cold

every moment expecting to wake up.