for Armistead Maupin
I’d like to die if heaven is San Francisco,
if it’s 1976, Halloween.
I’d sit under the whitewashed stairs
sharing a hash brownie with Mrs. Madrigal
in her jade and crimson kimono
and watch the queens roll by dressed as nuns,
the bay light sculpting their bodies’ shadows
on a row of old Victorians stacked on Russian Hill,
flashing off the dulled silver
of their blurred skates. I’d find Maryann from Ohio,
dressed in a khaki skirt and sensible shoes
and tell her I loved her,
that we’d both have our hearts broken by men.
In this eternal city, I wouldn’t get sick
from the baths, die the hard death in my twenties.
I’d keep coming home late from the disco
with sweat rolling down my arms, glitter in my hair.
She’d come home later, drunk
on the body of another man.
We’d sink into the couch and watch Cavett
until the screen went white with electric snow,
not oblivion but the end of something,
a shot at capturing the hum, the hollow in the earth
made by the living.