“One touch of your hand to mine O boy” — “Vigil Strange I Kept on the Field One Night,” Walt Whitman

Photo by Dawid Zawiła / Unsplash

by Eric Cline

It is not just that I am younger now than you

were then: a beacon of hope in father’s garb, twice

as old as those you held tenderly but not twice

as tenderly; kisses were reciprocated

in mud huts, on open air, burnt and dried, their wet

sometimes the only such left, bodies giving what

there is to give shortly before bullets’ receipt.

No, I think I will feel as your son, will entreat

you even if I should come to gather a glut

of years beyond your ever having. Should sun set

before me for the last before I have sated

this need to tell, I shall be as deserter. Thrice

I could live and not know what you by one knew; thrice

I would kiss you and beg you rend my limbs askew.

Eric Cline is a poet. His chapbooks include his strange boy eve (Yellow Chair Press, 2016), something farther across the ocean (Throwback Books, 2017), cicada shell: life in a queer body (Tenderness Lit, 2018), and The Temporary (forthcoming from Glass Lyre Press). A more extensive bibliography can be found at https://ericclinepoet.neocities.org/