Someday I’ll Love The Gym Like A Good Gay Boy Should
by Kit Emslie
after Ocean Vuong
Until then, you will linger by the shower curtain
where steam writes an invitation in the air.
You are sixteen and do not know the man
who holds the clear plastic open. You know
his show-never-tell, his body dressed only
in pinstripes of falling water. He breathes hot
noise, eyes the towel you’re afraid to let drop.
He does not ask your name. One less thing
to write large and then erase. You make yourself
a mirror and him the hand, reaching out
to swipe you clean. You step back. Is this
what it is to be dripping in remainders?
The man watches you walk away. He moans,
and you hear him through the shampoo
pooling in your ears. You hear him louder than
the urge to step into the stall, to let him palm
the water from your shoulders. His emptying
sees itself in you. You see it too, recoiling
from the power you could give it. You think
how easy it would be to give yourself up. To learn
your own shape from the space between his hands.
You will learn to keep men like him in your mouth,
know it as steam knows the limits of a window.
You will learn how not to be a vessel
only after you are filled.