'We Are Free to Do Good,'
Steve Mereu
J. Zimmerman


The Difficulty of Desire

As I approach home, ambling through the steam-bath Illinois afternoon,
I see him and his mother sitting near the rose bed and its falling blossoms.
On a chair and a chaise they lean their golden heads together and laugh,
most likely over something recalled from twenty years before I met him.
Tall sycamore trees shed their bark in the liquid heat.

The first time I saw him naked
he was the color of apricots and amber.
He shone as if candlelight filled the room,
as if we had just thrown off furs and velvet

after walking through winter moonlight,
returning from a nearby French restaurant
where musicians played tangos for us,
where we drank champagne.

He reached toward me, slender and sure,
like a seeker from an El Greco painting,
St. John the Baptist preaching how
immersion in water forgives sins.

When I see them Iím a block away. He and I do not know how soon
we will leave each other, not he who will become ash and air,
nor I who will become water complicated by chemicals and smoke,
a river that catches fire at random. I think of the way the hair on his chest
rises as I glide my nails across it, the way he lifts into me and enters.

Those two are so alike, the gleam of copper in their curls,
the lithe, freckle-coated limbs. They are two sides of a mirror,
twins separated only by gender and time. I am about to stand
between them once again, break them apart. So I take my time
walking toward them through the slow, thick air.