Handsome Young Man - Max Stone

That night we spent together

he told me, never be ashamed of who you are,

and never be ashamed of your scars.

But watching him walk down

my stairs, I knew. I’d never see him again.

& I was alone in the lemon-scented kitchen

scrubbing the forever-dirty sink.

I don’t know what I look like,

wrong angles everywhere.

My hips jut out too much,

flash like beacons of my former life.

But look at me! Look at me!

I’m a handsome young man,

nothing less. nothing

less. He told me that. & I try to believe it.

My body is ill-fitting & it hurts me.

My own body. My greatest instrument.

Organic mosaic. Extension.

I am powerless, on my knees praying

to the god of fitness that the last two abs

of my six-pack come in. Then, I might be okay.

I break apart, lose leaves, even in spring.

I am sterile. I am stilted.

Star-crossed to be jagged

and amalgamated.

Everything happens for a reason.

Did I put a curse on myself?

Did I see snakes twisting

together in the garden & draw the wrath of Hera,

like Tiresias?

Did I kick my brother too hard in the womb?

Or was it just a callous snip of string?

Speaking of my brother, he is everything I’ll never be.

& yes, I am bitter.

My mouth tastes like metal & juniper berries.

I was a shattered clay pot, pile of broken pieces.

Smooth glaze felt wrong over sharp edges

It chipped away, leaving me raw & bare

& vulnerable to hungry eyeballs & elements.

Slowly I gathered up my pieces,

put myself back together. Different.

Dreamself: sleek muscles, flat stretch of chest,

softness sanded from my face,

jawline-knifeline, surging veins.

& I found my voice,

the dark jewel hidden in my throat.

I held my structure with paper & sticks & glued

myself back together with mud.

When it dried, it turned to gold.

I became a precious object.

Got a glimpse of myself in Lacan’s mirror.

I grow specific.

I understand that I am a scary abundance, shapeshifting:

at once the skeleton ash of a match on the windowsill

for a breeze to disperse into cosmic dust,

& a messed-up traffic signal blinking red green red green.

& steep, a slope, one of those y=mx+b type lines

that goes up & on forever. Mostly, I regret being so expansive,

if that’s what I am. But sometimes I think nothing, no one,

can stop me from pinging my signal out into space. Someone

will hear it. See it. Come. Someone like me. We’ll meet

in hazy purple light. I’m not ashamed of my scars, he has them

too. He’ll touch me like I touch myself.