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He cannot love a man whose body

is made up of drawers. At night he coughs up

ironing boards and potted

hibiscuses, and when they speak

of children his stare is unset:

a selkie contemplating a seduction,

a broken bone. If he speaks to him of marriage,

the answer is the same.

When he takes off his shirt the muscles

in his back look like clay smoothed

over a wire frame but if there is anything malleable

inside him it does not show.

In august he finds him transplanting succulents

and maidenhairs in the side yard

and when the lizards start mating

he buries butcher paper curses around the roots

of the persimmon tree and stops shaving.

Eucalyptuses begin falling on parked

cars and power lines and coyotes come down

from the foothills to walk on their hind legs

and practice reading discarded

newspapers and street signs.

When the mornings come with incisors

and skeletal systems they take turns playing the man

of the house, cleaning the gutters,

dealing with the naiads in the water filter,

but when he sees him without clothes

on it’s like looking at himself: a white diner plate,

the unoccupied space inside a shirt on a wire hanger.

As the suburbs turn on and off

like a child playing with a light switch

he fears the worst. Quail riding the bus to work.

Rattlesnakes playing golf.

The neighborhood isn’t the same, he says.

You aren’t the man I thought you were.

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