Daughter of hard labour
& Catholic cross. Mother of son & son.
Protector of two gentle stars.
When I ask to talk—you turn your head
& smile, drop everything, wait for me
to fill the silence as though it were an empty bucket.
My words are slow. They crawl out of my mouth
like crabs until they don’t. But you are patient.
You wait until my lips are ready, until my tongue is ready
to spill the inkjet of what could be nothing,
of what could swell like blood in water.
You wait for me to say it—I am gay.
Your face does not change, it is soft as dusk.
When I was a child you’d hold me, wordless & now you hold me, wordless.
If my gayness was a human
he’d be a young adult by now & you would hold him, wordless.
You would cook for him, make him feel like food was a beacon
of home. Mother of grain. Daughter of soil.
You would make him a bed of wool & goose feathers
& kiss him goodnight. Fire fairy, wood sprite.
When I couldn’t tell you—I felt myself folding in,
collapsing inward like a building being torn down.
What I’m doing is called third-degree healing.
The scalding patches of heart exposed
to fires I’m not even sure are fires.
You hold my shoulders & look me in the eyes.
My eyes do not stray to your lips as they usually do.
I realize, like me, you are a child of a child of a child
who has had to unlearn hatred
for the self.
June bug. Mother of all that is good.
I tell you I am terrified of what’s to come,
that my body is bursting at the seams
with gardens of joy & I don’t know how to manage.
You say to me: smell the flowers,
pick a few vegetables
& make sure to always come home.