Ode to Patrick Swayze

Tishani Doshi

At fourteen I wanted to devour you,
the twang, the strut, the perfect proletarian
butt in the black pants of you. I wanted a man
like you to sashay into town and teach me
how to be an aeroplane in water. I didn't want
to be a baby. I wanted to be your baby.
I wanted revenge. I wanted to sue my breasts
for not living up to potential. I wanted Jennifer Grey
to meet with an unfortunate end and not have a love affair
with a ghost. At fourteen, I believed you'd given birth
to the word preternatural, and when Mother came
home one day, waving her walking shoe, saying,
I lost my soul in the Theosophical Society,
I wanted to dance as recklessly as the underside
of that shoe. I wanted to be a pebble in the soft
heel of you. To horse-whisper and live on a ranch
in Texas and love my blonde wife forever and have
creases around my eyes and experience at least one
goddamn summer where I could be like the wind—
sexy and untrammelled and dirty. And it was only
after I found my own Johnny (and got rid of him),
only yesterday, when I rescued a northern shoveler
from crows on the beach, his broken wing
squished against the crockery of my ribs,
only after setting him down at the edge
of a canal, where he sank in to the long patient
task of dying, that I realized what I'd wanted
most was to be held by someone determined
to save me, someone against whom I could press
my unflourishing chest, who'd offer me
not just the time of my life, but who'd tear
out reams of his yellowing pancreas,
and say, Here, baby, eat.

2017, Girls Are Coming out of the Woods

Last updated July 20, 2021