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.
Published online February 28 2014.
From Bowling Pin Fire (Signature Editions, 2007). Used with permission of the publisher.
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.
This piece was published in ‘Forces to Bear: The Reculturalization of Canadian Poetry,’ the Winter 2014 issue of CV2.
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