Men Who’ve Looked At Me (Vignettes)


The man in the car closest to us when we drove on the wrong side of the freeway in Los Angeles. Everything turned slow, felt like a movie. Five lanes of headlights pointing towards our car. He was illuminated in red. I looked the same. The lights, the hard-stomached terror, and wild eyes–before we turned off the road.


In the gutted tram in the Shortland yard and then a block away with our backs pressed into the wet grass of a stranger’s clipped lawn. We looked at non-existent stars. I looked at how you looked at me.

Later, down the street, when I knew you’d kiss me. Prophetic moments, strange teenage power.


C in his bedroom, mimicking the song we had playing. The room felt too big. Bad gin, big tremors. We compared our handwriting. I was always waiting for something then, and usually I got it. I did. There were jolts of prediction, but also the recognition that I couldn’t cause everything. He said, “Close your eyes. I have to tell you a secret.”


On the lawn at a party in an outer suburb. I’d never been drunk before. He looked through me. A sloppy smile. He played nice. I had a peach colored dress and a limp hand inside his shirt. K threw a drink on us and he went away. I didn’t understand why she did that until I got older.


An old boss, in his office. He had an insincere upward glance. “No one likes you because you’re too shy. You’re difficult to talk to.”


On a late night in Mexico, still sweating after ten. Food truck, LED glow. An American man with a face that looked like all the others. He wore a blue shirt. A beautiful woman stood beside him. I tried to order but couldn’t make out the words. He came and spoke for me in perfect, fast Spanish. He watched me eat for a minute. My mouth turned purple from the heat.


It was an easy slow afternoon with a light wind, on a Silver Lake meadow. G, next to me, slept in haze of sun. A man in a low lawn chair was watching me while I read. My dress hiked up. You could see my white underwear. Still, I didn’t pull the hem down.


You in the stairwell, with a cough that had been going on for months. You were sick almost that whole year. “I think it’s because I quit smoking,” you said. “I need a cigarette to dry me out.”


M in the morning, J in the morning, B in the morning–all separate times. All looking at me. This is a repeated behavior: Me with my eyes closed and my mouth still, hoping to be kissed. (Have we all pretended to be asleep to know how loved we really are?)

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