The change in me corresponded
to the change in her,
she who had instructed me
about man and woman and Onan
who sinned by letting it
“spill on the ground.”
“There are so many girls,” she cried,
as if I hadn’t noticed, gone further
than Dad’s “no kiss” injunction.
I was no Galahad.
My Grail was never a vessel,
unless it be an orifice
no one ever talked about.
Mother went through menopause,
and I became a man, late in my teens,
with no priest or goddess
to initiate me, no ceremony
except the rare ritual of fear,
of meeting, anticipation, excitement,
discovery, then sick-making guilt,
a promise never to make sex again
until the next time.
You want images? Picture
two lovers at a drive-in movie,
two men on a couch, in the shower.
Picture October light on a placid pool,
a sliding glass door, closed.
Notice a body unconscious on a bed,
yellow pills scattered like discarded seeds.
Picture a twenty-year-old coming to,
drinking coffee, promising Dad never
to tell Mom (she was at her father’s
funeral two thousand miles away).
Imagine an independence final
as a locked car door, fluid
as bubbles in a glass of beer.
Picture a prayer plant with wide,
spotted leaves, brown on the edges,
spread open for the muted light
of day, closed together as in prayer
for the cool light of the moon.
–from Moonman: New and Selected Poems,
World Parade Books, 2012