poem: until the sheets

Crossposted from IG. Written 10.20.21. Inspired by conversations with friends about dating people whose feminism fell short. The Janelle Monáe quote is from Many Moons (lyrics here).


You
came into my life
too good to be true,
wearing a feminist shirt and quoting bell hooks
and Maya Angelou – that made my mouth water
more than any shirtless selfie could’ve. You
swept me off my feet,
long talks turned long
dinners turned long
midnight hours. I
spent many a witching hour with you.

I have spent many a new moon, seeding my intentions,
been dreaming of a love that makes life sweeter.
So I began spinning dreams of you
on new moons too, side by side with me.

I loved letting my hands touch you,
knowing you chose to be here with me,
that I could make a claim on your time.
But when you slid outta that feminist shirt,
I wonder if you slid outta your feminism too.
Your pillowtalk was what you had learned
from luminaries like Grace Lee and adrienne maree,
your sisters and aunties and nameless exes.
(if we broke up, despite what we taught each other,
would I just be another nameless ex?)
And you began joking it wasn’t a big deal,
if I skipped my nightly meds if it meant more time with you.
Something was planted in me then.

Somehow, your
promise to read Alex Elle with me,
never happened. And you
began asking if we could stop using a barrier during sex,
even though I had said I only did that with in-it-to-win-it
in-it-for-the-long-haul lovers, and you
hadn’t even told your friends we were together. You
never told anyone, not even me, if were dating,
even though I’d asked and asked during our
six hour conversations about sex, feminism,
and cable TV shows of the 90s.
And something grew in me when
in public, your
tenderness was nowhere to be found.

So when I told my best friend about you, about how you
wouldn’t hold my hand at the grocery store,
and when you
saw my face, you
promised to make it up to me in private.
She took my hand in broad daylight and said,
“You deserve someone who loves you
and makes it clear to you, who does not make you doubt.
And I am here with you.”
The warmth she gave me was different from the
longing I had for you. I
cannot love you for who I want you to be, I
cannot love you for the potential I see with you.
I can only love you for who you are now,
for how you treat me now.

I remembered that I’d heard you
have many conversations
not just with me but with other starry-eyed people
about the state of feminism. But I’d never heard you
say that you are the harvest of
more women, femmes, and
celestial mermaid fairies than you could count.
And when you sing to the masses of
the beautiful bloom that you are, you
do not mention the hands that sowed
you, do no thank the hands that nurtured
you, do not apologize to the hands that
were stung and swollen by your nettles
as they grew you into this flower
I and others wanted to draw close to.

Feminism is one way I try to get closer to being free.
And you could not bring your feminism past your fashion
or beyond the public accolades and into who warms your sheets,
who cleans your sheets. And so, even though our first bites
of each other were sweet, it was time to rinse the taste of you
outta my mouth, the scent of you off of my skin.
People like me have loved people like you a long time,
people whose public claims of gender respect and gender power
fall short, that’s why there are so many memes about
red flags, trash cans, as many as there are fuckboys and fuckbois.

When Janelle Monáe asks,
tell me are you bold enough to reach for love?
I still respond with everything in me:
Yes, yes I am. I believe in love,
I believe in my capacity,
limitless, endless like the sky,
to love as deeply as the sea,
again and again. Each love I have
is as unique as a snowflake’s fingerprint, and you
have melted away. But I do not mind, there will be
a better love. I am sure of it,
it is in me, it is on the horizon,
and when it is close enough for me to hold,
I will reach for them,
and they will take my hand,
and together we will go
into the sun-warm embrace of our community.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s