This poem is taken from Stand 232, 19(4) January - March 2022.

Remi Graves Two Poems

lout

say someone stares at me for long enough  am I allowed to snap  a photo of their face taking me in | capture the capturing  the cage of their gaze  I nearly did today  the man on the bench with a five o’clock shadow  eyes that looked like punching was the only way he knew how to ask a question  he looked and looked without smiling  a face like stone  like he was digging for the thing he was afraid of  that someone other  could do man as well as him  with no chin hair to prove it  his stare a shovel trying to root out the seed  of what he recognised in me  and I nearly swung the camera from behind my back  how boxers swing arms  round and into my hands  nearly pressed the shutter button like the trigger of a bulletless gun  the flash hitting his face like cold water  or a fist  to bring him back into his own body  out of mine  but really I just stared back at for a few seconds  blank despite the ache in my chest1  all I could muster not actually knowing how to fight  and not knowing if he knew I was not a threat  and still in walking on  I doubted what I had seen  stopped myself turning back to check  wondered if the metal glint of an arrow I glimpsed in his eyes  was ever there at all  if the photo I didn’t take  would be proof of his distaste for my living  his searching look a weapon formed against me  or if in fact all the drama of disgust was mine alone  a shard of imagination  and the photo once looked at would show nothing  but an open landscape of a face  threat-less  unperturbed by me  invisible daytime ghost of gender  and what if I had drawn in the hostility  with my own crayon fear of men and what they see in me  or what I long for in them

1 is this what he recognised?



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