National Coming Out, 1987

National Coming Out, 1987
Elliott batTzedek

Swallowing charcoal swill
I,I,I, couldn’t say why she took the pill
bottle instead of the pill,
only that I
didn’t mean to die.

She, the smart girl, always so smart,
oh how she burst apart
heart’s juice run thin
mopped up off
the kitchen floor

with unused tickets for the bus to DC.
Instead she’d agreed to see
my parents. Why? I,I,I
didn’t want to die, talked us out
of the ER,

while she was still vomiting bile. I found
my rigid back, my prescribed smile, checked
us out to watch the marchers on the mall
chanting Come out, come out,
wherever you are!

For 25 years I’ve been a dyke, still hiding
what makes me queer, playing sleight
of hand so she and I,I,I will disappear,
folding them inward
and inward again.

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