Popular in part for the pharmacy,
his after-school job,
John initiated our Friday nights
with handfuls of lifted pills.
I remember the ketamine cough,
nasty side effect of a blurry high.
Remember one summer, sleeping
all night in the hammock, the profundity
of trees, their undersides
like garments twisted inside out.

When Robin bet me John wouldn’t kiss her,
this was years before we knew he was gay,
I bet he would, the power
of beauty is absolute it seemed
to me back then. She climbed
onto his lap, he was watching the game,
the den, dark, was filled with boys,
parted his lips with her tongue.
When he opened his mouth for more,
complicated host of reasons, she flounced off,
came back to the kitchen where I’d been waiting.
You won.

I remember a survey of sexual experience
girls circulated in junior high:
Have you ever let a boy
eat you out? I was shocked
at the grammar, who can’t
manage take you out to eat

Did John make it through
the plague years? Or has he
long since been memorialized
by friends we never knew?
West Hollywood chapel, a handful
of rainbows in a dish by the door.

The owner of the pharmacy
was a member of our temple.
Of course we never told.
We took what was offered,
went where it took us.

John is dead. I imagine this
then imagine he survived,
who disappeared from our lives, left us
to the long story of the body,
our blank sheets
puckery as water under wind.