I keep seeing the picture from the
memorial service, the one of Matthew
Shepard, squatting, hugging his own
knees, wearing baggy pants, uncombed
hair, the toes of his sneakers pointing
out over the edge of a precipice.
He stares off into the far away sky
with sad child's eyes, like Chaplin.
He seems perched there, inches from
death, a small bird ready to take flight,
holding himself, balancing himself like
on a skate board doing a dangerous
stunt. I saw him on the subway today,
girlish pink skin and lips blowing
bubble gum into luminous sugar-
orb membranes. He breathes softly
into them. I expect to see something
form inside, an embryo, and float away.
I expect two punks to walk up to him
and beat him senseless, splattering him.
I'm sure he was left-handed. Everything
he touched was backwards. Just walking
seemed more of an effort, with oversized
feet. There he is crossing Eighth Avenue,
a laughing carload of bullies swerve at him,
just miss him. As they scream, "Faggot,"
he trips and falls. His eyes dart back and
forth, making sure they are gone, before
he brushes himself off and shuffles on.