Horn Field at Red Lion Christian School / Photo from Flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons


Back when I went to Red Lion

Christian School, two towns over,

because my parents insisted

it was the only good one around,

even when Dad had to wake me up

before daybreak so I could be

the first one on that bus

out of the middle of nowhere—

back when school still

meant recess, and the other

first-grade boys foamed at the mouth

for it like caged animals,

I used to avoid their kickball games

and enter the girls’ world

of pretend instead, as a prince

or a superhero,

because I knew if one day

I stood in the outfield, I’d just draw

in the sand as Zachary caught

the ball, scoring the third out—

and I hadn’t yet even imagined how uninvited

I’d feel years later, in my high school

Bible study, or the locker room

before track practice.

I remember how quickly

I laughed it off when

that javelin thrower asked me,

Hey Justin, you’re gay, right?

Photo from Wikimedia / Licensed under Creative Commons


It was nearly impossible not to notice Patrick—

I could hear his energetic, high-pitched voice even

when he sat on the other side of the staff tables

in the camp dining hall. I aspired to be as confident as him.

I only said to Patrick when I came back

that second summer. I joined the staff Bible study.

I had crushes on a lifeguard, the pottery instructor,

my cabinmate. I kept it to myself.

I’ve been thinking I might be gay, I said

to Patrick the day before we left for the summer,

as we took apart a campsite. He hugged me

in the trees, where no one else could see us.

Maybe I’ll get to thank Patrick this summer,

in the city, when I run into him at a bar

on a Saturday night, our boyfriends

in tow. Maybe he won’t recognize me.


I tend to like a boy who looks

how I wish I did, like the characters

I used to make in video games—build him thin

but add some muscle, pick the hair

that’s messy in just

the right way, which eye color

is the best for staring into?—

as if I could inhale

some of his style and charm

every time we kissed.