“Inheritance” from The Year of Blue Water

Maureen McLane tells Rebecca that in a moment of communal emergency, it is easy to lose our selves. I repeat this to at least three more people within three days. This is personal: now I am writing in a panic. I need it to keep myself. I return, sitting in the audience, listening to conversation like a sermon. How do we keep each other? I return, sitting in another classroom, listening to Saskia hum Bob Dylan before he won a Nobel Prize, right beneath the thumbprint of sun coming through the blinds. The blinds in the classroom that are on hardwood floors like the ones I grew up with, stretching behind the front door, reading Różewicz for the first time. How do we keep each other? Making notes of this all.

My parents are invested in inheritance as power. On the phone, my mother guesses that she’s lived a hard life. She’s worked hard. I try to tell her that she should see the doctor, try and take care of herself. She hasn’t slept very much this month. It can’t be done, she says—who else will work for us?

At lunch, I pretended that my body didn’t want food. It wanted fries or peanut M&Ms; they were a dollar instead of two, the price of high school lunch. I saved money this way. I wasn’t sure what I was saving my body for. This was yet another thing it absorbed. So many other girls did this every day (I was a girl at the time). We watched each other but never talked about it.

My mother tells me something. Has she been lonely? There was so much I couldn’t see as a child. And then it was too much to try and save her, to help her feel better and feel a little less lonely. I felt like I failed at loving her. I felt like I failed at saving her from loneliness. As a kid, you can’t know that this isn’t your job. As a kid, you can’t know that the people you love can live and die for completely other reasons.

The male dancers are paired with other male dancers. They dance in a way that echoes sameness. Yet that is not what I feel with women, or what draws me to women. When I was a woman, I didn’t feel the same as them, or they to me. Our sameness was only a cover. This is the great secret of lesbianism if there is a secret that even I did not know. We do not want the same things. There is no other woman. There is only woman to woman to woman.

No Funeral

You mourn the girl I was / as if I killed her, / as if I left her / in a field somewhere, / shipwrecked in the dry grass –

Dancing Queen

Queerness is longing to be connected to history, community, culture. Seeing ourselves in the past is how we imagine ourselves in the future.