SELF PORTRAIT AS NAOMI
Don’t call me sister. Don’t say grace for choice or love when you mean
pleasant. Instead call me dyke. Name the bank you’ve built between us. Call
me bitter for calling you out with my tongue of endive and flame.
God has made beetles, bats, and bisexual bonobos. You have made
life so bitter behind the bars of your holy zoo. Take, eat. Do this
for me. I spread a sheet with creatures wild in their want. Say you
went away full, queasy with questions of what is natural.
But God has called it good. So yes, I pray with sticky hands—they
brought me home praising the god of my clit, my vagina blessedly
empty. Why call this death? This petit mort, from which I rise, saved
me. Pleasant as a garden of snakes before one rotten apple,
I grieve and curse this forced fork in my mouth, its false dichotomy.
God has set all bodies in motion. I move in mine without shame,
a heaviness I once mistook for holiness. No, this is not
on me. I won’t lay on this stone for those who once called me kin.
is a lesbian poet, educator, and librarian. Her writing has been published in literary journals including Tinderbox, Redivider, Glass, Vinyl, and Entropy. Her poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Orison anthology. A Mass Cultural Council Fellow, she's an alum of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and received her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Antioch University. She is currently working her first book-length collection focusing on themes of queerness, church, and belonging using biblical text & characters, exclusionary church documents, and semi-autobiographical detail from her experiences with conversion therapy. She currently lives in Boston with her wife and works as Education Director for Mass Poetry.