What kind of lesbian would I be if I were born today?

two women kissing while wrapped in rainbow flag
Photo by Karina Irias on Pexels.com

I see your pictures on social media

a part of me is envious

of your freedom

even though women many years before

either of us

had absolutely no freedom and only those

with enough money could consider taking

a woman as their lover

it is hard to imagine

each generation I suspect

forgets the sacrifices of the last

cannot envision a time when

it was illegal to love

my experience was never that awful

I had freedoms many women still do not possess

and I am grateful for that

but sometimes when I see your

youthful face and the grace with which you accept love

how natural and easy it feels

I recall how I began

hiding in dark bars, trying to fit in, failing

never one to play endless games of poker face

I didn’t fit in with my own kind then

but if I’d been you

born in the sun with your turquoise eyes like the Donovan song

I might have had on my arm

a whole host of dreams and not

dabbled in boys for a few futile and unhappy years or

felt I couldn’t have had children and let

my fear and my constraint decide for me

the future

you are the age my daughter might be

and I would like to think I’d have

done all you have done had I been born

in a time of greater acceptance where

women who love women can grow their hair

and not have to cling to stereotypes or subterfuge

carrying knots of shame and confusion

like blankets never stretched out and slept on

I would have gotten a tattoo and maybe

been less shy and apologetic

I remember at 18 that’s all I seemed to do

sorry to my family for not having turned out straight

sorry to my friends for being the odd one out

sorry to the gays on the march who thought

with my dresses and my long tresses I was a weekend

lesbian

if they only knew

what it took and what I sacrificed

maybe they understand now

but we’re all a little older and

you don’t recapture what you felt at 18

you remember it like a language

I spoke the language of trial and error

I suspect you speak the language of love

just a little freer

so forgive me if I envy you as you walk past me

hand in hand, laughing, the edges of your hair

hitting your waist

like a Summer tidal wave.

SMITTEN – This is What Love Looks Like – Poetry by women for women – an anthology of poetry published by Indie Blu(e) will be out OCTOBER 2019 and available through all good book sellers. Please consider following SMITTEN’s FB page at https://www.facebook.com/SMITTENwomen/

If you are interested in supporting this project in any way please contact me @ candicedaquin@gmail.com. All LGBTQ projects are a little more challenging to succeed and we want the 120_+ poets who have work in SMITTEN to be read by many! Indie Blu(e) and their submissions rules can be found at www.indieblu.net69885770_486778818770380_803119555336470528_n

Pasted in absolution

photo

are lesbians all extroverts?

or has the press of being confined

so many years

caused them to burst at the seams

when introduced to

cold water? And social media?

Wake Up. Wake Up. Sleeping Bird.

Stepping out I felt

scathed, unprepared, strange, curled at the edges

not comprehending the pool cues and

darts carelessly flung

nor wished to grow my nails long

and lay back a pillow princess

nor an intellectual dyke with accolade

my mom said to me as a kid

you like to be different

it wasn’t a compliment

she meant it as an insult and loathed

the trace of my existence

being several minorities you begin

to collect them like badges of pride

though i was not proud

of being periphery to my tribe

if indeed these women were my ilk

they did not feel like were

they seemed rather barbarous and hateful

if truth be told

or worse, indifferent and with such

secret codes I never learned how

to impress upon them my membership

much as i kept trying

my lily white Sephardi leg did not dip well

into the queer melting pot

my ink stained hands and penchant

for sensitivity over brevity

left most rolling their eyes in askance

like the cows at the back of the field where i grew up

wondering then if i were normal

or doomed to be different

something in our blood, our skin, our freckled creed

sets us apart

it isn’t left-handed-ism

burnt toast, dyscalculia

shy labias or closed boxes of wild flowers

trailing their haunted perfume through your hands

or even, a repulsion of dykes

chalking their conquests up like men

gloating over how much pussy they had

it isn’t that I cried over

certain novels (Anna Karenina) and not others (Rubyfruit Jungle)

or did not get my (polka-dot) panties in a wad

when KD Lang sang or Ellen

waved her plaid-clad-arms

I hated Orange Is The New Black (but Wentworth was good)

I was never a follower of trends (except those plastic sandals you could buy

in Dollar Tree and with lip-gloss look pretty fabulous at 12)

nor adroit at fitting in just because

of one thing in common or a noon day pink vagina-hat march

there were

too many that didn’t fit

anywhere

satellites without orbit

except maybe, briefly, with you

you, who also didn’t fit in

couldn’t endure small-talk, the color yellow

or back yard get-togethers with damp burgers

and without a glass of wine, found yourself unable to resist

hiding in the abandoned tree house

smoking a purloined woodbine

something about your short nails and full lips

isn’t that what they always say?

see? I subscribed to one lesbian myth

and maybe

if we stay long enough

legs swinging against dusk

fireflies eating holes in the universe

we’ll not feel so cut out of errors

and pasted in absolution

for all we are supposed to be and not

anything much but this

lovely sway in darkness

SweptAway

10585_Shadow-iPhone-Photos-26_w1120Here in the quiet room

you can fool yourself for a moment

joy has returned

her skin like oranges left in sun

narrow feet catching dust, turning in their little arc

you want to tell her you notice everything

as if it were your job to record the very sum

using nothing but words and build from alphabet

exact reasons you still

catch your breath

yet for all the music beneath her skin

a familiar yet unfamiliar person within

she has been long gone just as she remains

a shadow against a wall elongated

like places you once lived in

turn strange

taking one more look around

before you leave

key on the mantle

watching tulips breathe

their redolent mystery

as the color of her eyes

was never a word to capture

something free then

flying

out of the window she left ajar

that day she stopped being herself

and you could return in a 100 years

just for the smell clinging to her neck

how she feels beneath her clothes

places you know like a hidden map

joy solved in one tightly held hand

like a sailor lost at sea

when she is far and away

diving for pearls in hope

one will be as black and magical

as her iris caught by car light

watching you, seeing nothing

even the whispers of who she once was

swept away

the room now bare and empty

readying for new people

running your fingers along the memory

heart in throat

seeing her turn

that beautiful smile

before she climbs

the narrow stairs

Radiance

Sun filigreed through high tree lines

Touching our chosen space with bright finger tips

We swing, irregular rhythm, sometimes your momentum, sometimes mine

I watch you point your toes and know

It is hard to remain calm, not to act upon

Desires bound by respect and difference

You are a forest nymph, a hummingbird

You are a nayad of the lake, your honey my want

I imagine holding your bottom lip lightly with my teeth

Graze your unapproachable grace with whispering touch

Green water is still and birds sound from high

I hear it all

And only the gentle deep of your voice

How you move your mouth

The tilt of your long elegant neck

Sunlight turning your skin into caramel

Picks out the rushing river of your eyes

Glances off the high wistfulness of your cheeks

Your thin tshirt a wrapper, I long to pull toward me

Your fingers, nimble, I would take in my own

In my mind, I preserve each motion

How you tilt your small chin

The sway of your bones moving beneath skin

If I could I would cup your little face in my hands

Tilt you toward sunlight until all we could feel

Was radiance

Reach for the taste of your tongue

Bury myself in your laundered smell

The brush of forest and leaves, wild and breathing

Stay in that singular and plural second

Retracing the shapes you make, rising and falling

I know there are things pulling us back into the world

I know we cannot stay in this dappled moment forever

That life goes on demanding our turn of attention

But I will keep coming back to your eyes

Capturing light, water, air, me

I think I see

I think I see

More within your secret self

Than our words have yet said

All I can do is hope, I’m not imagining

Or the burning in my chest does not long alone

It would be inexplicable to feel so much

Without return

But as I drive away

The sun dipping slow behind clouds

I have a confidence I’ve never possessed

Certain it is not just me, who speaks silently beneath surfaces

If you can hold on to the courage of now, how we are

To let yourself feel it too

It doesn’t matter how long it will flame

It matters that we do not give up before we create that light

Before the resolve of desire and emotion

Sets untouched and life grows dark again

I do not want to give up on hoping

You’ll look at the same sky

Share my wish

You have planted a longing in me I cannot ignore

Unspoken and afraid to be real

Until you say

From your beautiful mouth

With your lovely faraway voice

Yes I want

I want you too

She is beauty

If her heart were a drum

it would be outlawed for beating too loud

for the insistent and unwary pound

keeping wakeful when those who rest

wish for silence

beneath her is a lake of feeling

if a mime enacted, his black cloth fingers

would grow numb with gesticulation

his elbows fatigued from the shapes

her wordless passion smacked into

taut skin

trembling at the imagining of her

proximity

she breaks a sweat on the fine hair of her neck

a necklace of pearl and moonstone

for each sway of her fruiting body

she is the picker of her sanity

a welcome devil in empty playground

she blinks into darkness, seeing futures

in one, she is swimming in dark water

the stars illuminating only her want

reaching shore, she searches for her among shadows

trying to imagine the way she feels

naked and shaking off

the spill of her longing

in another they are talking

far into time and beyond, where

landscapes break open pink and ochre

like food consumed by gods

she cannot yet tear herself away

from the smoothness of her skin

or how her cheeks slope like arching

cats, pulling beauty from places

she didn’t know existed

she cannot yet reach out

run her tremulous and urgent hunger

along the narrow slope of her shoulders

and dipping into honey, find a

succulence beyond anything yet tasted

she is a terrifying girl who

knows her power and still

is lost at times to its art

the wince and crimp of her slimness

like a willow tree, capturing storms

she holds her head like a wave

cresting against soft shoreline

proud and a little self-assured

the quivering arrow of her curves

tie like a bow around desire

burns in its simplicity

her skin is mango and sunlight

of all her lives spent

before she was found

still like a water fountain

just before it bursts, released from clay

there is harmony and music

in her tread and no one yet

has found the riddle to her heart

something distant and wafer thin

like a fabric of unknown origin

it is not her wish to change anything

but the temperature she feels

when they press against the other

beneath roar of blood and live wire

crackling into cuplets of lightning

it is not her wish to alter one second

save the moment she relents and

sensing something good

releases her perfume and all the

capture of her loveliness

till they mingle as one energy

burning their quickening on the tail of

some unearthed connection

where beneath the moon they

reach for each other and not

the solace of being alone

lying in a circle like warm petals

she draws her hand slowly

over the silk of her

without words sufficient

holds her breath

as long as it can stay

spellbound by her presence

the entire world paused

in reflecting pools

oceans

never deep enough to

swallow

the intensity

of her regard

for she

is beauty.

She told me, don’t worry about it

We’re sitting talking about how we know

You’re making me laugh at jokes, about Hannibal

How I only like Gillian, because she’s a bit like you

And I can’t tell anyone, including you

You reminded me how I knew, I was still alive

In the video of you dancing, uncaring and wild

That’s how I’m reminded why

I know beauty

How women

Are the possessors of

All that is beautiful

With your downcast eyes, the color of absinthe

Hair falling in your pale face, cut cheekbones and grace

The switch of your merciless, marching intelligence

The sorrow, the humor, the passion lines

How you make me laugh hysterically and blush

Pouting, pulling on your cigarette, getting me aroused and nervous

Without trying, you command all attention

Your wit is sharper than a sword

When you didn’t talk to me

It was like a blonde flower, turning her lights out

The night was darker

Still I heard

That song you made immortal

The sway of your slim hips and secret smile

And I’m speaking to you in a language, I outlawed

Because he dirtied it for me, forever

But you sound so lovely talking in the fog

I know I have to stand at a distance, or I’d reach out

Grab the concentration from your lovely brow

But to be in your blazing aura

The tiny, angry, intelligent, firey soul

You inhabit like no other

You were the girl who woke me up

I’d give anything to dance with you

To that exact song, in those same clothes

Your then blonde hair, a chaotic wisp

The crunched concentration on your francophone face

There’s classic and there’s disheveled-perfect and you’re both

I’d take your hand and say

Don’t worry, I know the rules

But for fucks sake we’ve both been here long enough

born the same year

You got the small chest I always wanted

And you said you liked my eyes

Same color green as yours

Not narcissism

But sisters

Lovers of

Pain and hard living

We only trust those like us

Who smoked and drank and have to show on our tired faces, the weariness of living

Where boundaries are never crossed

But fantasy is free and inked

And you like being adored

I am good at loving

Sad, happy, gorgeous girls, with crooked smiles

Who hold my attention with their spark

Catching in the darkness like a skinned rock, thrown out to sea

On Brighton beach

Where we’ll always be young and beautiful

Me chasing you in the cold sea

You disappearing into green waves

Yes

She has

Russia folded in her eyes

The girl she once was

In balletic poise and straight long neck

She carries her mother’s lips in disapproval and mirth

The tan of her father come from outside, asking for iced hibiscus

Her long hands are her own

They play instruments and lovers

With careful solitary stroke

She has the curl of her grandmother crossing brow in stray wave

A sad gaze into ether, when you catch her off guard

And I am drawn to the shy fruiting shape of her mouth

As we talk and artfully avoid

What is undisclosed in space existing

Between strangers, then become friends

Not yet more

Will she understand? Unbutton one permission

Without need to drink liquor or gather foreign courage

From the same source we all go

Unsure and burning up with tiptoeing fever

I imagine

Stepping over the divide

Between her serenity and mine

Touching the cool fawn skin of her throat

Gathering her to me, as gardener arranges posie from wild thorn

Proffering possibility like dancers, sweating and sleek bodied

Will acquiesce their motion to soft fall of curtain

I know her heart will be close to her warm skin

Cantering like a wild appalachian

I know because I see the quiver in her narrow shoulders

Feel her keening toward me as shifting current

Caught in hesitation and mute query

It is my place to shake doubt with first touch

Banish half formed fears

Replace them with mutual need

See her eyes widen and take in

The fullness of our rounding desire

We move into the other

Like music attracting and repelling

Night winds, pregnant with sea spray

Leaving flowers, shining and damp

Beneath velvet sky, emptied of noise

Lest sound of her sigh and one word,

Yes.