Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

29 October 2004

I read this at lunch today in Sep/Oct's Gay & Lesbian Review. It's by Richard Tayson and is entitled

WHATEVER HAPPENS TO THE LESBIAN HAPPENS TO ME
(after Muriel Rukeyser)

Whatever happens to the lesbian
walking down 7th Avenue
at two a.m., not thinking
of danger, touching
the turquoise earring her mother
gave her, new stubble
of the crew cut, wondering
if she went too far, passing
three college boys, drunk,
in front of Snooky's, hearing
one of them slur something
she can't make out
but knows the gist of,

she's remembering Trina's
face in the light and is
not thinking, as she turns
down Garfield, of the dark
street or the still
trees, a dog barking
down the block and how
she'd always walked with eyes
in the back of her head
and doesn't hear
the approach from behind

and is caught dead
mid-thought as someone
cracks a bottle over her
head while someone slams
the pipe into her knees
and someone swings the bat
that cracks her rib, she's

not thinking of anything
but the pain, as she falls
on the concrete in our
human city, her mother
dreaming of a house
in the country, her father
ordering last call,
her brother getting up
to feed the baby then going
back to sleep, whatever

happens to this woman
who is me and not
me, as she hears a voice
lunging at her over skies
over oceans at a great
distance, a voice

yelling Stop
it's a woman, and that
woman hearing six feet
running like six drums
beating in her head

and she thinks Where
are my glasses? and touches
the blood on her face
and prays to a god she quit
believing in some time ago,
and thinks, as she tries
to get up, We're not
separate ever, and is

changed forever, in the middle
of the night, eight blocks
from my room, whatever
happens to the lesbian
is happening to you asleep,
is happening to me asleep,
safe in my lover's arms.