Simon and Vallier in the Tub

This poem won Second place in 2-Day Poem Contest 2018

After Michel Marc Bouchard’s Les feluettes

Finally, on page 60, Simon (clothed) jumps in after him

and the two lovers embrace. He has managed to speak

the word, arranged in a grammar


that empties me from the top. In Edmonton last fall:

the tub lit, Vallier’s nude back turning the sound commodious,

more gay men seated around me


than this world has ever let me have. We flood the house

with a frisson of fingers on thighs, Adam’s apples alight,

all throats swallowing together


protecting in our nervous stomachs a love that could kill us.

This opera, this Catholic education, the coifs worn beneath

habits, the shame we start fires over.


It would be nice to say that I have outgrown this fear of

being watched, disciplined, that the teenage judge of God

was only a feckless martinet, a dullness


to overcome. But instead, while two gay men embrace,

I worry that tub might rust, that something is always already

compromised, a violence about to transpire


off Vallier’s roric skin. It occurs to me now how bathing

with my boyfriend wrung me like a sponge, my anxiety

filming the top of the water.


The tub is wheeled offstage with the two lovers inside.

If the moment of queer intimacy continues we aren’t allowed

to see it. The pith of that realization


sticks to the skin, holds on to the teeth I used to scrape orange

peels at my childhood soccer games, where the white caught,

where he hit me when he found out.