Hymn II — Reading Tolstoy Naked

by Brian Fuchs

My reality merges with memories, with desires,
is there a reality. Have these lives been mine?
Event appear in my mind, translucent and ethereal.
A lanky man in the doorway, light spilling
around his silhouette, casting him as a sort of deity,
a cigarette hanging from his lips
like he's come from a previous century.
A burly man, his chest a ticket
of soft hair for fingers to explore get lost,
reading Tolstoy in a dimly-lit living room, still naked.
The lamplight shines on his skin, casting strange shadows.
Is he really there?

I'm searching through faces,
longing for the smell of cigarette
smoke rubbed on my back as I'm
pulled toward a mouth still tasting of tobacco.
Or maybe I'll find myself coyly asking about Russian literature,
massaging muscular shoulders, satisfyingly corporeal.
I'm distracting him and pretending not to be distracted by him.
I'll kiss him until everything is wet and beautiful.
Imaginary friends rarely press their lips back,
and never with such force.

I'm searching through faces,
watching men sleep for hours.
Eyelids dance as they dream and I wonder
about the wide-eyed boy, belly full of mulberries,
a face on fire from the attention of adults, strangers.
He didn't know about men and the uncontrollable smiles
of the attention of adults, strangers. I miss him.
The nights are filled with breathing and rustling, peaceful.
The mornings are filled with coffee and cigarettes
or the pungent sweetness of a joint
which I pretend to enjoy because he does.
Weekends are a tangle of arms and legs, old movies,
sweaty and lazy afternoons.

It is well
It is well with my soul

I stay, huddled on beds or floors.
I don't tell stories about playing in the woods,
or about finding an armadillo skeleton,
or about thinking
my preschool teacher's name was Triceratops.
I'm searching through faces
for the one who wants to know.


Author's Note: This is a rewrite of a poem from 2001.

Posted on 08/30/2018
Copyright © 2020 Brian Fuchs

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