I lie down with you, I feel my beard crush into your beard,
I remember pressing my 14-year-old face
to a mirror to feel the prized whiskers
crumble back to me.
I finger the lumps on your balding head and you feel me.
Our hair has retreated.
Our stomachs have moved softly out into the world.
When you rise and walk to your shoes
I see the wear, the used look. You hang from your frame
like towels. No soft drink will ever claim you
on TV. I think of you as old full flowers
hanging at dusk from a fire escape
in an alley above a stage door
where those trim young guys would see us hugging and
imagine the AIDS virus boiling off us like flies.
Because I have not stood up, you come back,
drop to one knee, then the next, sway a little in your weight,
and fall on me with a growl that says
we are wrestling, asking would anyone
want to touch you, how shall I try to love you,
how shall I love myself?