Each September
Alan R. Slotkin




Each September,
As the leaves became burnished and fell,
As the air burst through the open windows of the north-facing Packard,
As the miles blurred into the asphalt oases that marked the path home,
I'd let the breezes dust off my brain,
Tearing images away like unattended playing cards in a windstorm,
Memories of toned men on 21st Street beach,
Of sinewy tennis players at Flamingo Park,
Of glittering sweat on muscled arms and chests.

Each September,
I'd return to the dingy classrooms of Brooklyn,
Crowded spaces where I would daydream of a life in Barcelona,
Surrounded by Roman arches and baroque swirls,
Immersed in the soft sounds of Catalan,
Touched by the strong fingers of a lover.
I wanted so much to be elsewhere,
To be other than I was—
But Septembers and dreams were not enough.

Each September,
I'd assume my spot behind the lectern,
Looking out at the beautiful faces of the young.
Among the many I would see the one,
The lost soul whose downward glance was shield
That hid him from the world.
I knew that look and all that it repressed,
The lust hiding behind the mask,
The longings too terrible to contemplate.

Each September,
I go to the maple in the quad,
The one whose leaves will soon cover the ground with gold,
The exact gold color of his quilted square;
I go to the place where Daniel lies,
His lust cooled,
His promise lost,
His life taken
By his desire to be.