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“I knew it was a mistake to send her to that writing camp”

Artwork by Vismaya C, staff artist

Mary Oliver was gay,

You cling to this thought until your knuckles turn white.

If there were yellow pages for lesbians, you’d read every name,

Searching for proof, evidence.

That there are people like you,

People who lived before you,

Who didn’t end up dead from AIDS

Or bleeding on the side of the highway.

Audre Lorde married a woman

She married a woman,

And the world didn’t explode

Her house didn’t come crashing down on its foundation

The moment she said “I do.”

And maybe her mother gave her the same look,

The expression of anger, mockery, and disgust

The face carved from salt and hornet venom,

Your mother gave you when you told her

What you were.

Maybe her mother gave her a look that nearly shattered her,

But she still survived.

You read all you can about these women

Who loved other women.

You recite their names in the dark

To lull yourself to sleep.

You blanket yourself in their poetry and stories,

Hoping their words will smooth the inner voice

That screams self-loathing obscenities into your ear,

These women, they got out.

They found love. They lived true.

What’s stopping you?

I’m glad I went, I learned so much.”

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