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.