- American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)
I clock fifty miles an hour down our hilly, mile-long driveway—avoiding our chickens—outrunning anticipation of my lungs clinging to old air from another time.
"I'm so glad you're home!" she says. She hangs on me, rubbing my leg like a cat leans in. I'm allergic. Panicked by her touch. I gasp at inconsistent snorkels of air.
"Me too," I lie, but don't lie. "It's so beautiful here today," I say. I look out our glass walls into September, ink-black crows and leaves like pumpkins coloring the landscape in time for Halloween. I look around at the life we've built. I gently touch things, making sure all is solid, still real.
"Can you believe we created this?" she says, asking without asking.
I wheel my bag to the bedroom. She comes up behind me. Quiet. Aggressive. She slides her hands up under my shirt. Skin. Holding my chest and me from behind. Resting her head on my shoulder, reassuring herself it still fits. "I missed you so much," she says, drinking me.
I vanish, becoming the crow that's hardly visible on the far-off horizon as she pushes my naked body, not me, onto our bed. [End Page 109]
A crow is a midsized black bird. The word "crow" is used both as part of the common name of many species and collectively for all raptor-type birds.
When I was a kid, my dad rescued a crow on the side of the road and mended him back to health. The neighbors hated that crow, named "Crow," because he would dive-bomb their grills and steal their backyard Sunday food.
I was fascinated by the freedom of that bird.
I longed to fall from the sky.
Tell me this: Does gayness lie dormant? Is it at times only as visible as a crow flying through a dark night? Does it then emerge, like puberty? Like the sunrise? Does it rise up naturally only to get pushed back down by society, sometimes so abruptly nobody even knows it happened?
I want to know.
Tell me this: How do you reconcile the time before you were aware of something that always was but was not? How do you hold onto beauty that was created amidst pain? How do you forgive yourself? How do you get over lost time?
I want to know.
Sometimes I convince myself of dates and times and moments and scenes. In the sixth-grade locker room, standing naked and erect, looking at that boy Kevin? I told myself I just wanted to look like the other boys. To discard my lard-padded body for theirs. I classified my same-sex attraction as a type of envy.
Maybe on our first anniversary, at age 19, when I abruptly left my marriage for a month? I was positive I had to leave. I had no idea why. I can't remember anything of that time other than my ravenous desire to put it all back together, which I did.
People in my life were not homophobic. I don't even remember knowing that word. Unlike so many others, I would not have faced repercussions from [End Page 110] my family had I known and revealed my true self. This might be what's most confusing. Confusion is hard to rank.
When awareness finally came, depression was by then so thick in me I could no longer breathe.
I'm unsure how many nights I spent hugging the edge of our almost-twenty-year bed. For months, at least, I lay stiffas wood and totally limp, praying she wouldn't touch me. I'd rise in the nakedness of morning, shoulders locked in pain, devastated my prayer had come true. Unlikely pairings. Praying she wouldn't, devastated she didn't.
That's why I came out.
I long for the clarity other people seem to have. The knowing from a young age of who they are and what they desire. Nearly every gay man I know talks of knowing.
I am hungry to know how I didn't know...