The Gaggle

a close-up of Ryan Baker's belly. His belly is pale, covered with dark hair, and has a bandaid covering the lower left side of his belly. The bandaid is covering his injection site. He is wearing earthy green high waisted pants

photo by Ryan Chard Smith

The Gaggle

What is it in a man that makes him keep secrets?

The secrets of his tenderness & his passion?

When I was convinced I was a girl, men had this layer glazed over on top of their eyes. The things I’m not supposed to know. The things they aren’t supposed to share.

But sometimes, the film from their eyes deteriorates. 

And they see that I am a man too.

A safe man.
Their wings melt in the sun when they fly too close. 

I grew mine myself.

I am a man to share the “I always loved him”s with. 

To be whispering and not know why

As if saying the truth too loud would mean that the echoes from our vocal cords would come back as ghosts to haunt us in our twilight hours. 

But once men get into a gaggle of 3 or more, the screen over their eyes comes back. Suddenly I’m not there. Suddenly I’m just a little boy among men. 

When just moments before, they were weeping in my arms. 

Isn’t it exhausting to be in a closet you built for yourself? 

Splintered wood poking at your skin. The smell of mothballs suffocating you. 

You don’t even wear the same clothes anymore!

Put them in boxes!  Clean up this space!  Even the termites can’t bite on this wood anymore

Demolish. Break. Flood the room with fabrics of the past.

It’s your room!

Go clean it up! 

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