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We Are All Lesbians - Gertrude and Emily

page 20


Gertrude I have your voice on a record
and I listen to it
when I do exercises in the morning
feeling your rhythms on my skin
Emily when Im lonely
I think of your face
with its quiet look of endurance
youre my friends
marking places in time
where my consciousness existed
before me
you had to hide
and so became obscure
Gertrude your language was called hermetic
as in 'hermetically sealed'
you were a nonsense woman
they tried to make you a clown
your writing was called
stream of consciousness
so it couldnt make sense
your consciousness
couldnt be allowed to make sense
when you talked about
"tender buttons"
were those breasts you meant
when you asked
"when do I see lightning"
and answered
"every night"
were you talking about making love
Emily who thought to look at you
myth of a spinster
wounded by emotions
too deep for physical touch
religious mystic mulling over
god-bones snow flakes and death
when you praised madness

page 21

and insisted
"the sould selects its own society"
described the people around you
as a world "that never wrote to me"
everyone thought
poor woman
what made her stay indoors so long
and never come out
if only we knew
well now we do
Gertrude at least you lived
the life you wanted
you would have felt better
if you could have said it
even at the expense of not creating
that hard to follow style
you needed
to be able to write at all
without quite lying
Emily if only you could have
lived it
instead of having to bit your lip
and count your losses
"my life closed twice
before its close"
I dont know if being gay
is part of what youd want
to be remembered for now
but youre my friends
in our past lives
we were all
Gertrude Stein and Emily Dickinson
in your present lives
you are us
telling the truth
and living it too
at last

Fran Winant