The beautiful woman tells me that once
a space exists as a place of God it can never lose
that purpose. I believe her. She was talking of a temple
but there’s a bedroom down south where a boy gave me
all his angels and they’ve never left. When people die
in car accidents bouquets of fake flowers grow
by the road to hide the doors that open up
between this life and the next. Your grandfather
once kissed your grandmother in a whorehouse
in Carolina. He knew the baby wasn’t his but no
one else did and they were married fifty years.
That whorehouse is the church of your family.
I crossed the street this morning where yesterday
another woman danced with something holy in her feet.
Call me crazy I could feel it. She named her god
electric. Tell me we are wrong.

Reading The Book

Reading the book this morning,
for the first time in years,
for the first time stepping into middle-age,
for the first time with my right leg hurting,
for the first time welcoming my body as I wake,
for the first time meeting something
in my hips if I sit at too sharp of an angle.
Not the first time with a glass chest
but the first time knowing it.
Reading the book and coming back to it
as a new person, or as the same person
but now sitting in a different chair,
where the light hits the page
and falls on a line I know I’ve read
before but have no memory of ever reading.

Yesterday I met a man I know I’ve kissed before
but have no memory of ever kissing. He was polite,
hugged me in that way where our bodies didn’t really touch,
made small talk about buildings torn down and
buildings built up in their place. I thought briefly about
kissing him right there just to complete the memory,
but I wouldn’t be doing that. Instead I’d be making
something new, a new poem, a new book. Instead
I’d be sitting in a different chair.

I’ve forgotten so many men. Years and I was so scared
to let anyone make a church of me. I never believed
in gods. Just the way gods made me feel. It’s only recently
I’ve allowed myself to be kissed, really kissed,
on places other than the lips.

Someday, when something new hurts,
when there’s a crack in the glass, I’ll pick up
the book again and read it for the first time. Then
it will all come back to me. The color of the walls.
The unexpected gentleness. His name and why
I couldn’t love him. Why I couldn’t let him love me.
We learn how to pray when the church is on fire.
In the flames we remember all the hymns.

Bryan Borland @SRP_Bryan is founding publisher of Sibling Rivalry Press. His most recent book, DIG (Stillhouse Press, 2016) was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in Gay Poetry and a Stonewall Honor Book in Literature as selected by the American Library Association. For more, visit www.bryanborland.com

Banner Image by Robert Frede Kenter. Tweets at @frede_kenter