East of Wyoming, I Remember Matthew Shepard

After The Entombment by Raphael

The night my father died, I sat on a stool 
          at the Buckhorn, gazing
                     out the window’s cool counter seat. 
Like a funhouse mirror, you appeared. 
          I have a familiar-looking face; my father used to say—
                     his wish for me to blend in. 
Late after an argument, I fled 
          and was found bound to a prairie fence 
                     after eighteen hours.
My body is like a sock in the wind 
          in a field just a mile from here. 
                     My face blooms, velvety 
and light like a lamb’s ear, 
          stachys byzantina; my ears 
                     frozen with blood; down 
my neck, it goes. A medley of ants shuffles 
          away. My body is rich with the sour smell 
                     of urine on my head like a crown of daffodils. 

Copyright © 2023 by Ruben Quesada. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 27, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.