On this road to heaven

in the art cave

Blackout poem #11 Blackout poem #11

“There was very little traffic
on this road to heaven.
He had some trouble on the way.
The past always lurked as he drove this road,
more real than the things in plain view.”

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To an old friend that I’d known in high school and came out to me as bisexual years later in a public library:

A part of me wasn’t surprised – back in school, I’d always had the feeling that you were more open, in every way that “open” was definable to me.

I remember a day back in school where some others were talking about the “frigid test” and you agreed to participate. This guy ran his fingers from your forehead, finishing at your groin in an invisible, vertical line down your body, and you didn’t bat an eyelash or shiver like some frigid or hormonal teenager would. I was oddly proud of you for that, and in awe.

I remember your eyes meeting mine afterward, and in hindsight, I wonder if you’d realised I had been watching with rapt attention, every inch of the way down; the heavy blinking of my eyes and slightly parted lips might have given away that it excited me more than it should have.

But that day in the public library, when we accidentally ran into each other years after school, I couldn’t be less enthused when you outed yourself to me.

I am sorry for the way I reacted, and for the shame you must have felt at revealing something so important to me, only to have me backpedal in our conversation like that. You had been a better friend to me than I ever was to you, even when we weren’t always friends. My reaction to you that day wasn’t disgust, but rather a moment of panic attributed to an inability of mine to recognise my own, elusive sexual openness. Looking back, I am ashamed of how emphatically I backed away from you, both verbally and rhetorically. There is so much about that day that I would do differently, given the chance.

But despite my regrets, I do know that even if I had consciously accepted my own unconventional attraction then, I would not have taken you up on what I had assumed was tentative flirting on your part, and we would have remained nothing more than old friends who met one day and then never met again. Nothing more.

Today though, you’d be happy to know that I am completely aware of who I really am. But even if these words never reach you, I can only hope you didn’t spend all these years thinking that that once upon a friend thought any less of you that day. It is one of the many moments of my past I wish clarity had besieged me, regarding my sexuality, and I regret not remaining calmer and more understanding in the face of your courage.

Thank-you for being a positive influence on me. I will never forget it. Or you.