I first meet him in a nursery, his arms covered to the elbows in potting soil, sweat gleaming off of his skin.
It was I who speaks first- compelled by the muscles of his shoulders working under his skin. He stands to talk.
At first, he doesn't seem like he is interested in other men. He is introspective, shy, unpolitical. His stance is neutral and his eyes are hazel, kind. He is holding a tiny cactus that he was in the middle of arranging into a rather large display of desert plants. There's a smudge of dirt on his cheek. His vowels have a roundness to them that hints that he is from the south. But his voice doesn't hiss or quiver at any telling moments. The only rag in his pocket is used to wipe the dirt from his hands.
But he looms over me like the boyhood fantasy that came far too late to me. He smells of old wood, greenery, the earth. His teeth are dark and neat, his smile, tentative. His knees rattle when he stands and there is a sound like the clattering of rocks in one's pocket.