Mistaken Identity

When I type your name into Google my screen fills
…………with links to a Dustin Carter I don’t know,
a young man who’s a state champion high school wrestler
…………from Ohio, who had all four of his limbs amputated
when he was 5. When I click “images,” as anyone would,
…………there he is in full color, a body trimmed away.
Yet still he dominates the mat, his half-arms, half-legs
…………stretching in every direction, pinning down
the other boys with his 103 pounds of power
…………and spandex, not unlike you pinning me
to the bed, though we are normally naked.

…………And I wonder if some day you’ll be mistaken
for this boy with your name, perhaps at an airport,
…………say the ticket agent sees your name
and he’s from Ohio, played basketball, but was always
…………overshadowed by a limbless wrestler,
who got a story in Sports Illustrated, and this agent
…………seeks revenge, and just as he’s about to give you
a seat between two annoying passengers with screaming
…………children he’ll look up, see your limbs intact,
realize his mistake, but disappointment will make him
…………give you the seat anyway because for a second
you and Wrestler Carter will have been the same person.

…………Like someday I might be mistaken for the Judo
blogger who shares my name, enjoys expressing his love
…………of martial arts to strangers via the world wide web.
I read his blogs, though I don’t even know what Judo is
………...exactly, but I imagine it can be quite thrilling
for those who appreciate the way bodies move
…………in space, the visual representation of violence.
Blogger Mills ends each post with the words: “keep smiling,”
…………and I wonder what he has to smile about: Judo?
His ability to look good in white? Or maybe the new sexual
…………positions he’s created based on this ancient art
of moving? He addresses his readers as if there are hundreds,
…………maybe thousands, yet no one has left a comment,
making me think his audience is actually quite small,
…………might only be made up of other Stephen Millses
who found his blog by narcissistically searching
…………Google for their own reflection—which I find
when I switch my search to “images” (safe filter off).

It’s a picture with both a Dustin Carter
…………and a Stephen Mills, and it’s really us and we’re standing
in suits about to kiss, flowers in our lapels.
…………It’s from the mock weddings we did in college
to help show the Midwest that gay people
…………aren’t so scary, but the local newspaper refused to publish
a photo of two young men about to kiss,
…………so the photographer posted it on his webpage instead.
There we are in cyberspace: two boys in love.
…………And I wonder if that wrestler or blogger has ever
typed his name into Google, hit “images,”
…………and stared in amazement at us, thinking: maybe one day
I’ll be mistaken for a boy who kissed another boy
…………
on a cold February day in Indiana. 

Previously published in The Antioch Review.

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Stephen S. Mills holds an MFA from Florida State University. His poems have appeared in The Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide, The New York Quarterly, The Antioch Review, The Los Angeles Review, Knockout, and others. His first book, He Do the Gay Man in Different Voices, is out from Sibling Rivalry Press. “My father reads my poem in a Chinese restaurant” was one of Stephen’s first poems ever published back in 2007. Stephen’s “My father reads my poem in a Chinese restaurant” and “The scientists don’t know why the whales are beaching themselves” are also in Reprint.

Object(s) to bring back to life: “I’d bring back drinking in the office (like on Mad Men).”

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