Antinous for Everybody

I worship a dead gay teenager and you can too

POEM: Nineteenth-Century Reality TV, or, a Rose for the Little Flower

Your sisters sat around and watched you suffer,
writing down the words you gasped in pain
like the seven last words of Jesus (culled
from four different sources). You pulled
the petals off flowers and threw them
to Jesus, to the faces of saints you loved.
Their faces are forgotten now, but yours
was captured forever, the first saint to bless
the technology of photography. I push aside
the plaster statues, the colored and retouched
images, the photoshopping of your day,
and look into those photographs. Cool, calm,
challenging, and stubborn, you gaze out
in black and white, and I know there are thorns
in the roses you are so sweetly holding.
Even the roses of heaven, you seem to say,
are set with thorns, for that is the nature of roses.
Yet they are so beautiful, so fragrant, that one cannot
help but approach them, even if the thorns
are many, and make the fingers bleed. Send me
a rose from the heavenly garden, says the
old prayer, as a message of love: Send me
the blood-red flower that will intoxicate me
with its odor and make me suffer with its thorns,
O Little Flower of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face.

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