Ode to Patrick Swayze – Tishani Doshi

At fourteen I wanted to devour you,
the twang, the strut, the perfect proletarian
butt in the black pants of you. I wanted a man
like you to sashay into town and teach me
how to be an aeroplane in water. I didn’t want
to be a baby. I wanted to be your baby.
I wanted revenge. I wanted to sue my breasts
for not living up to potential. I wanted Jennifer Grey
to meet with an unfortunate end and not have a love affair
with a ghost. At fourteen, I believed you’d given birth
to the word preternatural, and when Mother came
home one day, waving her walking shoe, saying,
I lost my soul in the Theosophical Society,
I wanted to dance as recklessly as the underside
of that shoe. I wanted to be a pebble in the soft
heel of you. To horse-whisper and live on a ranch
in Texas and love my blonde wife forever and have
creases around my eyes and experience at least one
goddamn summer where I could be like the wind—
sexy and untrammelled and dirty. And it was only
after I found my own Johnny (and got rid of him),
only yesterday, when I rescued a northern shoveler
from crows on the beach, his broken wing
squished against the crockery of my ribs,
only after setting him down at the edge
of a canal, where he sank in to the long patient
task of dying, that I realized what I’d wanted
most was to be held by someone determined
to save me, someone against whom I could press
my unflourishing chest, who’d offer me
not just the time of my life, but who’d tear
out reams of his yellowing pancreas,
and say, Here, baby, eat.