For a very long time I didn’t even know who he was. I saw his work. I saw his face. I hoped that they might be the same, but I never knew. He was beyond me, and I did not dare speak through the restraints of my idea that he was different from me. Different and real.

I see my paint-strokes on this paper.

I loved this quiet, queer man from the beginning, when he was only a name and a sepia-colored monotype print of a man, in shadow, illuminated from only one side. I loved this quiet, strange man, and the rich brown undercurrents that thickened the air before we met. I was quiet for him. I let the earth sink into my skin with hope.

I will paint for you, but will you ever think of me?

When he came to me at last I came to him I came to him I knew that he would touch for my lips out of doors, on the street. We would feel each other’s heat through wet and strange and cold. I heard a song in the distance every time I met his glance and knew we would kiss on the street. And we did. For an instant, when his hands moved from my waist to my arms to my face and he broke, tried again, and broke.

I loved this man from the beginning, when he was a god and I was a dreamer intent on finding his heart. His name changed halfway through. I loved this man when he was Robert and everything about him was royal and impossible and muted through thick wings of white, white paint, bringing darker scenes to life. He corrected me at last, and changed his name and changed everything about him in the process. I saw Bob in my dreams and saw Bob in my classes, and I ducked my head in both.

Bob became a man, and me the idea.

He talked about beauty when he left. And now I am blue, forsaking brown. Now I am dreaming in charcoal instead of in oil. He talked about beauty as he was turning to leave, about a beautiful day, and I was forced to see it he made me look the damn beauty right straight in the face through the tears I was trying not to show instead of the possibilities slipping and slipping and slipping away, with a hand and a wave and forced kind of kiss and his body moving through a shadowed door, away.

I loved this quiet, awful, wonderful man from the beginning. And now he is cold and I am burning, far away. I loved him when he was too cool for words and when I was hot with shame. In coming full circle it seems nothing has changed but the past And it’s the past that I can’t get beyond. The five minutes when something was magic and right.

I painted this for you.

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