Long before he understood much, he sensed
that when he slid out from the dark folds
of his mother’s body,
weewee unfurling like a flag,
everyone saluted his boyness.
Long before he understood much, he feared
fists and headlocks, the lunging towards his solar plexus,
all the noisy dares that defined the bullies on the playground.
Long before he understood much, he saw
that the tough ones followed siren songs into manhood,
speeding cars, war drums, drunken brawls,
the whole fire truck of adolescence
too loud for comfort.
Long before he understood much, he knew
to those who were constantly listening,
ready to take in the fragile mewing of a small
cat under the porch, ready to marvel at the harmonics
of rain on the galvanized roof.
Long before he understood much, he reveled
in the gentle flute, the piano without pedals.
His first love was a short, gentle
sonata, tender, and never forgotten.
His second was a woman with a voice
clear as water.
Trusting his instincts, confiding
only in softer souls,
he grew into a man blessed with
perfect pitch and quiet hobbies,
still a man.