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Secret Admirations

Movie night with D.
A casual movie night:
Lying near you on the bed,
I am struck by your beauty.
The line that runs
From your shoulder
Down your side
Along your leg
To your foot:
I am so happy
To have one so beautiful
In my life
As a friend to talk to.
I thought my strong feelings for you
Were all in the past.
That's what I told you back then.
Today it seems best
That these new ones
Remain secret admirations.

Remembering B.
In an idle moment
Before setting out for work:
I remember us.
A brief time
Of close connection
Passion and sex.
    of thoughts
    of feelings
    of secrets
    of fears
    of joys.
You've moved on
And I'm supposed to be
Getting over you.
People already think I'm obsessed.
Another secret admiration.

Thinking of P.
Old friend:
You ended up too often feeling used
By your former sex partners.
I remember how you frowned
When I probed your interest in me.
You cut off all contact
With those who crossed the line.
So I've drooled over you
In secret ever since.

As a college student
I remember back rubs
I gave to boys in the dorm.
It helped them relax
And it helped me
Feel there was more to life
Than solitary study.
I was afraid
That they'd think I was gay
That they'd get uncomfortable
That they'd stop accepting
Backrubs from me.
I was afraid
That maybe I was gay
And that I was after
A secret, ugly, sexual, thing.
There were feelings
I couldn't account for:
More secret admirations.

In my home town
There were my Boy Scout friends:
We faced the wilderness together.
We grew up together.
We became like brothers.
But when the other guys fooled around
In ways boys sometimes do,
I stayed out of it
Because I was afraid
That it meant something
Very different to me.
We were taught
A tangle that did not make sense.
Fooling around is fine
If you don't mean anything by it.
But if you have feelings,
You deserve to be punished?
Or beat up?
Though I didn't fool around
There were a few I had feelings for
Who I wanted something extra with.
Nowadays I take a stand:
Sex is ok
If you care
And if the other is willing.
But I expect
Even my Scouting brothers
    and sex,
    and caring
With fear and hate.
So to my few:
I hold you in secret admiration.

Thinking back through my history:
So many secret admirations.
Small wonder I expect
Rejection by default.
And value so highly
A chance to speak my heart
To break the silence
To risk
    the fear.
    the rejection.
    the confusion.
    the hate.
And expect only rarely
To hear a kind reply
That no secret is necessary.

20 September 2000
revised 26 December 2000

by Bill Cattey