You always hated the smell of stale cigarettes on my breath
But that night you were a little drunk on whiskey so you didn’t care,
And held my hand on the 7 train even though
We were going through Woodside with the guys in hoodies snickering.
I smiled in spite of myself and stared at the Chinese woman’s shopping bags:
Red, cheap plastic that smelled of fish. I tried to remember
What it was that Foucault said about gay men and going home.
That night I watched you turn in your sleep
From the dim light of your tiny bathroom and believed.
You who were corn-fed and milk-toothed didn’t believe in superstitions.
Face scrubbed and hair parted with a hard-edged determination
To take what was yours from a world that was wont to shut its dry palm
Before you even knew it. What would my restlessness mean to someone
As stolid as you? I tried to hold it off for as long as I could
Avoiding all the cracks from 35th to Crescent. You crinkled your nose
At the incense but didn’t say a thing. The lone mirror in the bedroom,
Covered in protection as if we were devout Semites in mourning.
It wasn’t enough. It was never enough.
I have always wanted to drink wine out of a can
Some of my friends enjoy spending their time dreaming about the future.
I said a crude thing about killing myself but it wasn’t because I was sad
Or even because I was trying to be funny, really, I just didn’t want to leave things
Undone. I try sending you little messages without tapping on my screen, all lit up.
Everything always has to be about you. I can’t get through the day
Without feeling like I’ve failed someone, in some way or another.
what was I yearning for if not for validation of my fears
The first things I didn’t even notice until long after the fact.
You harbored them away stealthily, accumulating bits and pieces,
Hoarding fragments of me like so many little treasures. What sort of self
Were you building, unbeknownst to my own body, my own mind?
Were you to fashion for me a new form, one pieced from
Memories squirreled away in the file cabinets of your heart, I might
Have been less wary. I lost track of the parts, now alien and external
That had once made me whole. You walked away
Holding hands with someone I couldn’t quite place.
Profile: Tausif Noor