Shilo belongs to a protected category of person,
the kind that must be managed so as to preserve
its natural condition, to appear unaffected by the
forces of nature, and the imprint of man’s work,
afforded at least five thousand acres for solitude.
At first brush, it seemed probable we’d be lovers.
She had me feeling all-American and free, shout-
singing: “Girl, this land was made for you n’ me”
and all other beasts of the Northern Nevada wild,
where the desert is high and dry and exposed, not
so low and wet and closed as where I come from.
“What brings you here, to these parts?” should be
easy — a basic exchange of creative nonfiction —
and I’ve heard that it gets better, but when you’re
queer and a woman probes for your preference of
parts, it’s imperative to leave the door open some,
So you say something like “Where I come from is
called the River Valley, green and fertile and deep,
with mountains on both sides, thrusting up toward
the sky. Your land has dimples and mounds in all
the right-familiar places; it reminds me of home.”
Shilo showed me the Playa in June, before Burners
came to boogie and burn, and we scribbled crayon-
portraits of each other, our busts against a backdrop
that could have passed for the surface of the moon.
She drew me in — in an extraterrestrial style — soft
-shelled egg of a head, floating on a band of gold
dust that was literally black (as her tip of charcoal)
but, for better symbolism, I remember in gold.
There’s a rat-a-tat-tat on the window
that my imagination takes for bird’s
play — swallow — and then I see her
dancing, with her twin in the glass,
damn narcissist, she’s asking for it,
at my feet. No feathers?
There’s a feet, or two, or
a pair of Converse shoes
faded that familiar blue-
like lavender but not so sweet-
smelling as bodies do when hot
so hot so fucking hot are you
here on some errand? Here, winner
take all that’s left of my peach.
Pat of butter? Cup of sugar?
I have none nor the patience
for polite salutations
or whatever it is that you’re trying
to sell me today.
I want to give more
than what fits through a window,
so, if you will,
please come to the door.
Reading her poetry stirred me up: eye of newt, wing of dove — whatever. It did not matter. I would have fallen in love all the same. Yet, modest, she remained. She said: “In your presence, I can never remember what to do with my letters; I connect consonant to vowel and vowel to consonant, but what comes out is not a language that I can recognize. Emily colored in her lips with pencil-crayons, but always kept inside the lines; she was a “sometimes red, sometimes deep magenta” kind of girl. She wore collared dresses and thimbles on her thumbs, with flushed cheeks that seemed to say: “I know more of hugging and kissing than I care to admit.” In her embrace, I was enveloped with the strength of a nightcap (fit snugly to my crown) and could never remember what to do with my Body.
I. On the verge of vertigo, the objects
in the mirror are closer than they appear
to be right-brained would be such
a wonderful thing that mothers always say
is: “Look both ways before crossing
the street” less traveled by will ebb
and flow, but who could miss such a
spectacular show-and-tell needs ears
and eyes are said to be our most expressive
feature films never feature heads
II. Carry the weight of your world to my
doorstep. Let it lay upon my shoulders.
Shoulders. Shoulders were built to
shimmy and shake, shake, shake it,
girls were built to touch and taste and
feel better, Love, you’ve got so much left
to prove that force equals mass times
acceleration equals (Vf – Vi)
over time, my shoulders will buckle and break-
ing bread stands for broken bones in
the Bible teaches that we are built to
III. In fourth grade, I played as the knee-high
man who stood fallen, unable to get up-
stairs, everyone was laughing, but
I stood frozen, unable to get up
the courage and join them in
Holy Union, by the power invested
in me, and my legs, which buckled at
the “knee me in the groin, I deserve it!”
you spat on my glasses but they were not
dirty dishes made you angry not
mad means crazy – I learned that much in
IV. Gym teacher says “reach out and touch your toes
— if you can” throw on a movie and coat
of lipstick, well, you’ll have yourself
a date too mediocre to remember
might make a good little anniversary
one day after my thirteenth birthday,
gym teacher says “you can shoot for the moon,
but you’ll never score a three-point-
one-four was my favorite number in
the universe made me a “Mother,
why don’t you number the stars