Alexa Garvoille

A Third Gay Boyfriend Comes Out to Me on Beaver Island

So many outings had I attended, but never my own.
This was the job of the girlfriend with the gaydar:
I dry humped a gay man on his mother’s rug,
penpaled the fire chief out of the closet,
and approved of the dick doodles hidden from view.

I was the grand marshal of their parade. I let them come
out into my loving hand while my own desires beat
like the sands into the shore.

Looking like a boy at fourteen,
I had him double-taking.
He fooled me, too: his skinny face
and popped-out hip, done-up hair, the flannel.

We mistook the other for what each was:
he was girl enough for me, and I
could man up for him. In the mirage
of this pheromone-fuzzy trip,
we fell
not so much in love,
but in step, settling
like frantic seabirds into crashing waves
for each other.

When he came out to me the next summer
at camp, he thought he broke my heart.
In a cross-legged seagrass conference,
amid twiggy shoring up of sand, he told me
in a sob of downturned shame.
I smiled and I laughed
and I patted his knee. By now, I knew
the routine. Even the gulls,
like queens preening in the wings, cackled
approval for what we all knew.

His tears, and others’, I took coldly
like a serum to steel my unease, to hide
in plain view on his arm: a beard
and her beau, so much the same,
except for their taste in men.

I had no appointment for confession.
My own outing was a brimming
spring of unspoken suggestion
(this hair, those clothes)
leaving, I thought, no room
for denial or for questions.

That June, a clarinetist took me
to a practice room and held my hands in hers.
Those lessons—mouth on my ear lobe—
would never leave the lake.

Alexa Garvoille is an MFA in Creative Writing candidate at Virginia Tech. In addition to writing poems, she also researches creative writing pedagogy.