Wildlife Terry CC
The first lesbian I ever knew I knew
taught me to transform the curse
from “fuck you” you to
“may no one ever fuck you.”
By eighteen, she knew
there’s more than one way to get screwed,
and some of them are blessings
best never bestowed on those
hellbent on proving we’re hellbound.
Since then, I’ve learned
we’re titans of the turnaround.
We’ve never found a phrase we can’t reframe.
We turn slurs into nicknames into t-shirt slogans,
remix epithets as anthems we sing in six-part harmony.
We’re experts of alchemy,
apothecaries who brew medicine from poison,
transmute Dyke to Dykon
Flamer to Phoenix
Beaver Eater to Hot Dam(n).
I’ve never met a lesbian who wasn’t a deft hand
at turning a middle finger into a goddamned gift.
(Behold the many uses of a well-formed fist.)
So it’s like this? Lez go, show us your worst.
We’re an artillery of Tim Gunns:
we make it work.
Transform the curse.
My first lesson in lesbian.
You and I
transform their every curse
into a blessing
I have less and less energy
to make mosaics from the brokenness
they’ve left behind
I’d trade my cleverest comeback for a story
I can self-define
a blessing that ends as it begins
in benediction. That requires no revision
Here, now, if only for a minute
let’s hold each other—start to finish--
wholly and holy queer:
May your body be a pride parade that’s only met with cheers.
May love play a never ending music festival inside your chest.
May you rest in your belonging.
May you rest
like every day’s an afternoon in June
that you’ve spent slurping rainbow sno-cones in the sun.
May no one
ever fuck you
(unless you so choose).
May no one ever fuck you over
but if they do,
may you find yourself back in this room,
drinking in the medicine
of a community that calls you
only the name you’ve chosen
only our most precious blessing
only the miraculous answer
to our every
Mary Maxfield (she/ they) uses poetry, research, fiction, and nonfiction to explore queerness, illness, trauma, and community. Their past publications include Catapult, Strange Horizons, and Sweeter Voices Still: An LGBTQ Anthology from Middle America. In 2021, Mary was chosen as a Lambda Literary Fellow in Young Adult Fiction. Find her online at marymaxfield.com.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.