Anything That Stretches You
Robert was rather attractive
but didn’t have much between the ears.
It became apparent early on
that he had little chance of passing
without special help.
Bless his heart, he accepted my offer,
and in my office we re-wrote every paper.
He was there faithfully. His next paper
written all by himself wouldn’t be
that much better, nor is mine necessarily,
but we worked and we worked and we worked.
Near the end of the semester,
Robert got just enough better
to pass that course with a C-minus,
which was the best we were going to get,
and he earned it. He was able to get out
and do the work of the other courses.
I was happy, and he was happy too.
I didn’t see Robert for maybe a year
or year and a half. Spring was on its way
and the world was, as e.e. cummings says,
“puddle wonderful.” I was jogging around
the lake on our campus, trying to miss a puddle
here and not slip there. I looked ahead,
and Robert appeared, like an apparition,
jogging through the wet, cold brightness.
I was enormously happy to see him,
to confirm that he was still at the University!
I brightened and called, “Robert!”
Robert spat in my face and said, “Faggot!”
Imagine what it would be like to be Robert?
Imagine what it would be like to be Robert’s wife?
Forget the spit on my face. That is not important.
Imagine being Robert’s daughter,
coming to your father with a need,
any kind of need, anything that stretched him.
Jesus talked about spittle taking scales off our eyes.
I knew in the moment that Robert’s spit hit my eyes:
the Roberts of the world are vastly in need of love.
LOUIE CREW, 75, is an Alabama native and an emeritus professor at Rutgers. He lives in East Orange, NJ, with Ernest Clay, his husband of 38 years.
Crew is the founder of Integrity, an international organization of LGBTQ Anglicans, and holds honorary doctorates from three Episcopal seminaries.