The Boys I Loved (and who loved me)

Had no beards, spoke softly, had gentle hands
except for Ricardo, who once threw a punch defending my honor
and ended up in the emergency room.

Since then, the middle finger of his right hand wore a scar
with my name on it. We never kissed because I dated his brother
who went on to commit suicide. Later, Ricardo and I fell in love
with the same girl. He got to have her. I never did.

There were other boys. Kisses at the movies, long car
rides ending up at lovers’ lanes overlooking the ocean.
One boy loved the rain because our breath
would fog the windows, a private curtain covering desire.

I loved the foreigner who showed me the sky, whispered
the names of constellations while our heads rested in each
others’ arms. His brother brought me flowers,
made me feel like a movie star.

One boy liked to sit on the old sofa
on the front porch of his small house and kissed me
while his grandmother slept in a room nearby.

There was a U.S. soldier stationed in Panama
I almost married. The Army transferred him.
In God I must trust.

But my favorites were the gay boys
who never talked about marriage and children,
who didn’t want to own me. My best companions
who loved to dance, design clothes, party and have fun—

the ones I truly loved even after I lost them
one by one
to love, or whatever it was called
that we felt in those days.

 

– from The Battlefield of Your Body (El Campo De Batalla De Tu Cuerpo)