When I was a child
I used to love to stare at lovers —
at couples kissing, a man looking
longingly into a woman's eyes,
a woman adoring back
and marvel over the possibilities of love.
Usually I was with my sister,
standing in a grocery line,
or outside a theatre.
She would tug at my sleeve,
roll her eyes and banish me with her words:
"Stop staring! What's wrong with you!"
I did feel that something was wrong —
that I could be so content absorbing
the wave of her hair, the scent of perfume.
his strong fingers cupped around her shoulder.
It was the long, uninterrupted gaze I most preferred.
At the movies, I would draw into myself
as I watched on the big screen lover kiss
and felt a stab of pain in the centre of my stomach
travel through my body like a drug —
and for that brief time it was as though
I was the lover, the receiver of such rapt attention.
When the lights came on I carried the kiss
with me all though the rest of the late afternoon,
through the long walk home underneath the autumn arbours,
through the dull and tedious routine of dinner,
until I was alone in my bedroom and could replay
the scene in my mind without interruption.
I knew that as long as I was allowed to look,
to linger, to stare,
to become one with that spell that was so other,
to know and then to have —
that one day, my desire would end.
(from The End of Desire)