I have loved a hundred men—
Traveled the earth, sought them out, perused
The cafes, cathedrals, universities, auto
Shops, seaports, and hardware stores, acquiring each
Of them, a hundred strong, judging none
By just his cover. They are catalogued
All, sordid and filed, eager for my hands
To pluck, like posturing books from a potent shelf—
Waiting for me to flutter their pages,
Caress their spine, and preen their gilded edges.
They vie to seduce me with their blurbs, and impress
Me with the grandness of their frontispiece. I mouth
Their names with a shake of the coils at my nape.
I love them all the same—
One, who paints my toenails like rich,
Italian tiles; And One who tells me
My eyes are the exact color of his first
Car, a ’69 Camaro Rally Sport,
With tuck and roll upholstery.
One, who stoically bears my shame,
Gallantly returning the videos three
Days late, paying my fines
With coins of his own making;
And One who paints cerulean doors, bakes yams,
And reads Roethke aloud, like a warrior-poet.
One, watchless, who tells perfect time
By a graceful glance at a certain slant
Of light tilting in through a bedroom window;
And One who visits me in my dreams, whispering
Alchemical equations in French, altering
The composition of my leaden heart.
One who can tinker with a car and drink a beer,
While discussing Libertarian theory
And the space/time continuum;
And One who wields a hockey stick
Like a hammer of the gods, then stops
And buys me tampons on his victorious
Journey home from the icy northern rink.
One who charts the stars
From a vessel named ‘Dissent’;
One who roars The Wasteland
As he staggers in the snow;
One who eats thunderous apples
To fill my sullen silence;
One whose cruel, sensuous strides
Knife the air he moves through;
And One who weeps
At the sound
I am their mistress and their keeper, these
Bound brothers, lined side by side
On the possessive shelves of my gallery.
It is my imprint between their covers.
No other book lovers are allowed to browse
My special collection, with their overdue root
Touch-ups, their screeching heels, their false
Beauty marks penciled on like dewy
Decimals, and their endless trails of perfume
On-recon. And if, peering over the top
Of my jealous spectacles, I should ever catch
Them there, sashaying my aisles,
I will raise one vengeful finger to my lips,
And shush them into nothingness.
— Muffy Bolding