A Full Recounting of Flowers, That is, Remembering a Time When I Nearly Transformed What Really Happened Into Myth
Back when he climbed into my bed, I was fourteen.
In a whisper he claimed, “Love
between men is the purest form, when you stop
and think about it.” When he stopped
kissing my mouth, I heard a gasp—. Then my thoughts
returned like a snow-shower in May, trembling
frozen spirals down to grassy lots.
It must have been May. The flower-beds, full
outside the window—Crocus. Daffodils. Bulbs,
somewhere buried deep; something about to sprout.
He was the church choir director,
and a group of us were on tour for Christ.
Like Zeus, he had many children and a wife.
But that’s where the likeness ends. The likeness does
not extend to talons around my waist.
I am not some honey-skinned pool-boy,
today, filling cup after cup. That’s not how
this all turns out. Watch, as I slip his grasp, inch
by inch, year by year, man by man. Until
one night, there came a love I could love
for what it was—a life of ordinary bliss,
complete with weekend trips
to big-box stores, our two beloved dogs
panting in the backseat. You could say
I owe it to myself. That, in the end,
stories never truly end—
everything under the sun is,
over time, transformed:
tubers from one spring
turning up again and again
in the same poor soil,
true memories in a false poem.
You see, there never were any Daffodils.
No flower-box—no snowfall. Just the mottled blue
of May, and me, writing something
untranslatable, a muffled note from
a boy becoming part of that growing chorus,
burying what had happened, even as
it happens. In fact,
I’ve practiced saying, “That wasn’t me,” then
“That was me.” Neither feels right. Whatever was
purely human now seems grotesque, dangerous,
difficult to grasp. Yet in this mirror,
a window reflects another realm: the floral crowns
of a spring long forgotten, where the real
boy is himself crying—not the poet’s voice
mouthing the blank season,
that season which has no borders, no
beginning or end; no narrative arc,
no moral bloom; only this bolt of lightning,
never staying long enough
to see. But god, oh god, its reach. Its reach.
Frederick Speers is the author of So Far Afield (Nomadic Press), a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry in 2018. His poems have appeared in AGNI; Salamander Magazine; Diode Poetry Journal; Forklift, Ohio, and elsewhere. He lives in Denver, Colorado with his husband and their two dogs.