Down to You

I trampled those days, a lion, believed

in myself with a ferocity that has since 

never been the same. They were days

when self-knowing became real, a dented

bud of a tulip infused with its own 

fragility and what it might reveal.

I’d discovered Great Men. This late 

in the century, in so vast a country, so

few gay poets. On my invitation, you 

read for the university’s first gay 

pride week. The dance that night, 

dining tables upended, chairs stacked 

in corners, nervous men and women 

from town mixed with students. I dressed 

in what I hoped gay men might wear. You

asked my straight friend to dance, he tried

not to show how proud he was not to 

be an oaf, and when it was our turn, after 

odd late-eighties tracks and disco throw-

backs: everything you held high and told

yourself was true. It was my first dance

with another man, my right hand 

awkward upon your hip. You told me

it was your favourite Joni Mitchell song.

We glided, slow-motion skaters, on that

cafeteria’s hardwood floor, the man I

would become blooming in the distance,

pairs of men and pairs of women in our

orbit, dim lights suspended from the old

rafters above. As the days come down to you.

Andy Quan is the author of four books: the poetry collections Bowling Pin Fire and Slant; a book of short fiction, Calendar Boy; and one of gay erotica, Six Positions. He was the co-editor of Swallowing Clouds, an Anthology of Chinese Canadian Poetry. His fiction, poetry, erotica, sex writing and essays have appeared in over sixty anthologies, literary journals and magazines in North America, Australia, Spain and the United Kingdom. Born in Vancouver of Cantonese origins, he lived in Toronto, London and Brussels before settling in Sydney, Australia in 1999.