“The Space Traveler’s Crush” by Benjamin S. Grossberg

Benjamin S. Grossberg


Interestingly, it puns the same
in my language, too. Think
soda cans, think trash compactor,
think an enormous industrial
apparatus that squeezes and stacks
old cars. And how all these shrivel
beside the compaction of a heart
in the twin grinding knuckles
of desire. He wants to tell me
it doesn’t work that way, not
at my age—though he and I
reckon years by different suns,
so he has no idea how old I am,
not really. I want to tell him
I am as old as the wisdom
he hopes for in a lover, as young
as the incarnation of desire:
which must be beyond age, as
beyond gender, beyond species—
a lithe blue flame that manages
to warm even those parts of the body
decades cold. Listen, I tell him,
speaking into the intercom,
my voice moving out beyond
the ship—vector as the crow flies—
I don’t want to compromise
our friendship, but I’m willing to try
if you are. Except I don’t tell him,
and it’s the air vent I’m speaking into,
not the intercom, getting dust bunnies
in my face. Soon we will meet
to hike an asteroid. Then
I will swing by his planet to watch
a flick on his world’s crude
Internet. We’ll sit on his couch,
as we do, and he’ll lean his head
to the side—over a little further, then
a little further, until it seems almost
inevitable that it would float
to a soft landing on my shoulder,
like how you can cut the engines
and let your ship drift those last
few feet before touchdown.

from Rattle #43, Spring 2014
Tribute to Love Poems

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Benjamin S. Grossberg: “I wrote ‘The Space Traveler’s Crush’ after an evening with a ‘friend’—the last time we socialized—that helped clarify the nature of our relationship. We watched the HBO series Spartacus, and he was mesmerized and exclaiming about the gladiators, but not about me.”

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