In Response to an Instagram Comment Containing the Word “Queer”

For Laika, Soviet Space Dog

 

I come out at a drag show. I come out without wanting,

collapsible comments on an instagram post and my grandfather’s

voice through the phone minutes later says, Are you really––

Except he isn’t sure what comes next. Then, does it matter

that, when he tries calling back, I drop my phone to the floor?

That I cry to keep queens away, no longer interested in loving

like this? In living like this? I rip five dollars into zero and

close my eyes like this, Laika, like the way they lied about

you. If we’re being honest, I pay too much attention to two

boys in rainbow tutus down the aisle, to the music, sequins

multi-colored like disco light up the faces of people young

as me but in the good way. I don’t belong, even here. I don’t

like these lights on my face. And I try to tell my friends I'd like

to leave but Lady Gaga’s never been so loud. Laika, here’s why

this makes sense: each of your names was a lie. Desperate to be

called something instead of your usual nothing, so desperate

the words they chose didn’t matter. Only that they were yours.

Only that you were no longer a stray, except, you are what you’ve

always been. You are starving and you never stopped starving. You

are happy with each of your new names and you clean up nicely.

And maybe a word is just a word until a girl, barely pubescent,

watches you and your word gouge the sky to fire and wishes

she knew what to call herself.

This poem is about: 
Me
My family

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