When Brad is gone Nate breathes
Rage – Goddess, sing the rage of Peleus’ son Achilles,
and goes to work
murderous, doomed, that cost the Achaeans countless losses,
and lives his life
hurling down to the House of Death so many sturdy souls,
and they are together
great fighters’ souls, but made their bodies carrion
and he doesn’t have to look at his left hand to know.
D.C. happens all around him, mouth-tilts and white papers and Egypt, cherry blossoms, blizzard warnings, American foreign policy and un-foreign wars and their apartment really needs vacuuming. They live here, and he knows Ben’s Chili Bowl and what it’s like to go to Cakelove with Ray Person. Nate’s gone with Brad to Arlington, though not on Memorial Day. At the Tomb of the Unknowns they held hands.
Counting down hours is too much, lying in bed watching the sun rise, so he gets up and runs out to the Tidal Basin and around the early tourists
– passing the National Gallery he’s thinking statuary, white marble homoerotic as fuck, sir, Brad said once looking at Rodin, sidelong at Nate, and Nate sees discus throwers, Greece and young men on their knees grasping for arrows, arched taut with thrown-back heads and seamless rock and blank eyes –
and when he gets home he reorganizes his bookshelves because it’s not like he’ll be mocked for that, no, it’s not like he’s holding splayed book spines and imagining backing Brad up against their living room wall. It’s not like he runs his knuckles over the brick and thinks about beardburn on his thighs.
Nate touches The Symposium, remembers freshman year, agape and apotheosis and eros and learning the waiting spaces. He doesn’t pick up The Iliad.
He buys beer and apples and good cheese, sharp colors and sharp smells, and checks his email six times and calls his mother. “It’s the supermoon,” she says. “If you’re not doing anything, you should look at the pictures.” He does, restless with a laptop propped on his knees as he sits on the floor. He chants not Eurydice not Eurydice in his head. The moon is orange over the Parthenon.
When he hears the right footsteps in the hall he has Brad inside and against the door in the space of a breath, holds him there, and “I’m fine,” Brad says. “Nate. I’m fine.” Nate feels his own sudden smile. Brad nods at him and grins wide and overtired and he’s too thin and Nate moves into him, gets one hand behind his head and one along his jaw and kisses him, eyes open.