I forgave myself for having had a youth. —Thom Gunn At the Fashion Square mall, back of Waldenbooks, I saw my younger self haunting the magazine rack. Ripping out pages of Blueboy, tucking them in a Trapper Keeper. Turn back. His eyes met mine, animal and brittle, a form of gratitude that a man kept his stare. Any man. I half-smiled some admission, and though he couldn’t see it coming, I excused him his acid jeans; two Swatch watches, two guards. He, I, must have been nineteen: sex was “safer” then— scribbles on the mall men’s room stall; malaise of saxophone and PSAs. How did I even learn how to live in 1991? Landlocked, cock-blocked, Spanish moss festering. I forgive him.
Copyright © 2018 by Randall Mann. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 1, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.