The day I came out … all my girlfriends took one step apart
it can’t be they collectively agreed
she’s too pretty, she’s too feminine, she’s not a dyke she’s one of us
didn’t she enjoy sex with that boy in the garden? you know that party the one where
they turned the lights on and saw them straddled in tall grass?
What happened? Did you get raped? Was it because you grew up without a mom?
What happened? Did you get bewitched? Is she a sorceress? A genie? A devil?
Soon after the invites to go out on the girls-nights
the newly minted lesbian sat alone with her shadows and her eye make up
growing stale in their plastic boxes
virile boys wondered why they hadn’t kept her straight
cleavage girls wondered if she had looked at them in the shower the wrong way
why didn’t you try it on with me? her bi-curious mates inquired, offended
as if loving a girl was loving the entirety of the species and jumping
from trees on the first female she sees, du rigor
sparkly gay boys annoyed her with their primping and their bitching
clique gay girls alienated her with their cold eyes and their own brand of judgement
you can’t be one of us you’re too long-haired, too shiny, too voluminous
they played pool and ground the chalk into the cue with the ire of exclusive groups
who don’t want those ill-fitting and new
soon she began smoking things in glass tubes because
only the druggies the desperate and the dead would let
her be
and on occasion when she was really crushed into ice and fire she’d try to cure herself
with someone unknown and faceless, grinding down with fervor and lust
neither of which she ever felt
like a poison the awakening was not Kate Chopin but
a black box with no lock and no key and still no way out
her family said …  well we always knew you were obtuse
liked to stand out, be different, not fit in, it started with
left-handedness in the cot
we just hope you won’t try to give us grandchildren
think of the shame, think of their difficult lives and step away
she didn’t even have love so how was she going to fill her womb?
at a club a gay man pushed her against a greasy wall and said
there’s something molten about you girl, you’re not gay you’re a hot bitch
and his erection pressed into her dress like a knife
you’re not supposed to want me, she whispered as he pushed harder
you like boys not girls
boys will like anything given a chance, he replied, staining her with ammonia and denial
walking home one night a homeless man grabs her from the bushes
holding a blade to her neck he tries to impregnate her
she thinks
careful what you wish for
as the slice of him burns her empty
the officer at the hospital while they gather the rape kit
all the swabs like brushes with unwilling paint
told her; try wearing pants not skirts
you’re too beautiful it is like a flower
the bees will come if you let them
and she wondered, how is walking down the street permission?
well it’s your life style you see, it causes problems
how would anyone choose a life style of alienation?
you’re good-looking enough to get a lawyer, he winks
before leaving her naked beneath paper gown
blood on her thighs, horror in her throat
to consider and condemn
this is the life line of a girl who wasn’t linear
or bold or normal
or able to run with the swarm
she almost
tried to set herself on fire
to become one of those paper lanterns
lifting off the water into inky night
there were no hands to press her back to earth
they had been crossed and turned away
she didn’t fit into what they expected
what they needed her to be
were it not for you
with your wings and your fearlessness
on the day you told her
it’s okay not to be a stereotype
not every heterosexual woman will treat you like
you’re going to molest her
nor every straight man try to
put his hands beneath your panties
not every gay woman will
scorn your existence and push you to the corner
nor every queer boy loathe you
for being prettier than he
there are among us you said
people without definition or binary
who exist on the periphery of distinction
and we
will not
let you down
she wished she could tell
the pretty girl she tried to befriend who
always treated her different because she thought
you want me don’t you? you desperate lesbian
if you think you are free of bias and you believe yourself unjudging
stop and think about what you do unconsciously
with every favor to others over me, reminding
I have less worth
that is what happens without words without governance
the mistreatment almost invisible
like a paper cut
hurting more than it should
for the side-ways slice of discrimination is
often deeply sewn
wake up
wake up
she could be
your daughter
your best friend
careful how you step on this earth
without much you can
crush the fragile who only need
your equality