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I step from the shower and reach for the towel. The fogged mirror hides my face, but my body is reflected back at myself. I allow myself a moment of appraisal, turn to see my profile, and though I’m not entirely satisfied, I see the work I’ve done to shape myself into a man. The kind of man that could have his pick of love. I wish I could see that thin leaf on the freckled, sturdy shoulder. I’d trace the outline with my fingertip. I’d lick the edges of it, playing the man, promising nothing more than fun. I’d give him a taste of what I’d never let him keep. The sweetness that I would curl around a man containing more than drive or desire, a man containing mountain trails and dog hair and t-shirts worn thin at the seams. A man with rhythm and secrets unfolding at night, like loose diamonds spilling on black velvet, like the taste of comet tails dissolving on the tongue. A man I’d push against a restroom wall, his pulse thumping beneath my fingers. A man who cries, who takes hold of the stubborn ugly arms of a life lived full-throttle, who shakes it from the top of skyscrapers, making threats he’d definitely keep. A man slashing and burning. A man who offers me the joys that pile up within his heart.

Thin-leaf-tattoo man: you and the ones like you would never know what to do with me, today. That which has not destroyed me has made me stone and blood, has made me bold. I spit the fire, I burn the fear. St. James I am the halo, I am the horns. With them I will dress for the world; I will walk into battle. St. James I give you the shadow from my sword.

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